The Troll (Beaten)

Well, that was surprising. When you do 200 damage a hit, the Troll goes down surprisingly quickly.
I don’t have much else to add, though. I’ve already run through the Abandoned Mine before, and there’s nothing different this time, aside from being about 25 levels higher and finally beating the Troll.
Oh, yeah. Once you beat the Troll, the standard exit-portal appears in the middle of the room, in the convenient portal-sized non-dip.

Loot

Silent Box [Object]
Odd music box.
(Casts Silence 10% dest.)

Magical Stone [Object]
Soothes the spirit.
(MP to max. 25% Dest.)

Blessed Ring [Accessory]
[At.8, Df.8, Mat.8, Mdf.8, Holy.4]
[All]
Blessed and engraved with holy symbols.

Queen’s Circlet [Accessory]
[Int.8, Df.4, Mdf.4]
[All]
Beautiful circlet from ancient times.

Magical Stone and Silent Box are destructable items, and very good ones at that. Silence – a Fairy spell – shuts down enemy casters. In places like the Old Palace, where casters are quite numerous, this can be lifesaving. Like Sheep Lute, there’s only a 10% chance this item will be destroyed with each use, so barring bad luck it’ll last a while.
Magical Stone, on the other hand, is half a portable, reusable Elixir. Though MP restores itself so long as you’re not casting, it can be very frustrating and perilous running out of MP in the middle of a boss battle. Magical Stone refills your MP entirely, but destroys itself 25% of the time, so you’re not likely to hold on to this one as long as the Silent Box.

I’m seeing a theme in that last chest before the Troll… Queen’s Circlet is an okay accessory, but there are better things out there… unless it also does something unrelated to stats.
Better things, like the Blessed Ring, perhaps. 8 points to all defence and attack stats, and a slight increase in your Holy attribute, make this a decent accessory for general use, if you know you’re not going to head to a place where being Holy is a weakness.

Item of the Day

Elixir [Object]
Legendary medicine.
(Completely restores MP and HP)

Well, Elixir is certainly well-known, since Final Fantasy use it for the exact same purpose. Sometimes they even wake (or kill) the dead, to boot. You all know this one.
One of these days, I’m going to make a game and put Elixir as the status cure-all, rather than the cure-absolutely-everything-including-wounds. Or have it just restore a middling amount of MP. Other games have done it.

I suspect the Elixir is the reason the ‘Elexier’ in the Palace of the Immortals is how it is. But it’s just as confusing; I never found an Elixir the first time I played through this game, so I always assumed ‘Elexier’ was a typo.

Spell of the Day

Thunderbolt
MP: 45
Command: ∆ O ∆ ∆ O (∆O)
Blasts of lightning attack the foes.

Another of the fifth-level 45MP elemental attack spells, Thunderbolt is the upgraded form of Lightningbolt. As such, it deals much more damage than Lightningbolt, and produces three bolts instead of just the one – two at 40~ degrees, and one straight ahead.
Roughly. Again, Thunderbolt is a spell that’s difficult to predict precisely, though you know generally where the bolts will go. Compared to Lightningbolt, the damage it deals is vaguely sickening; I only cast it four or five times against Troll before it died, and its minions fell apart on the second cast.
As with Explosion, this spell should be cast from the commands, rather than assigned to the casting button; it’s a little more awkward to cast that way than Explosion, but the game sometimes reads the command for Lightningbolt if I mess up Thunderbolt, so… it’s not always a total loss, hm?

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The Ancient Ruins (2)

– The Ancient Ruins –
Sunken remains of the Arcane culture. The main ruins stand at the bottom of a great pit.

As mentioned before, there really isn’t anything to say about the Ancient Ruins. Brown wolves lurking on the surface levels can drop Blood Extracts, and are the weakest enemies in the area, meaning hanging around on the top level can be a good way to increase your maximum HP… but, depending on your luck and level, not necessarily as efficient as going into the ruins and killing chimera, instead. The gargoyles can drop small red-orange mana potions, but will rarely drop Material Magic instead.

The strongest enemies in the area are the silver-coloured wisps; unlike other enemies with the same structure, these are opaque, and have many reddish eyes on their front. They look pretty scary, ARE pretty scary when you realise there are eight of them that will mob you, and protect the hidden rooms in the Ancient Ruins. I can’t believe I missed those all these years. I even noticed the wall section was taller there, like a door, but didn’t think to try jumping in. I found the room in the Old Palace without help, so I don’t really have an excuse for missing those entrances. Thanks, Blaze.
Explosion, at least, is powerful enough to kill those things before they kill me. Finally, I’ll have something to show for visiting this area.

Down in the ruins proper, the metallic slimes and chimera are great sources of experience. I find the chimera easier to beat, as they aren’t as resistant to damage as the slimes, but the slimes can drop Material Magic. The chimera possess various third-level Sorcerer spells, and the slimes just love to digest you.

The security system of the Ancient Ruins must be beaten in order to leave the area, if you jump down from the surface; even if you jump to the lower area, still on the same map, you’ll have to beat the security system to activate the portal, as there’s no other way to go back up.
You know, unless you bring someone with Teleport or a Rope of Return.

1. The security system will generate Doppelgangers of party members at the beginning of the fight; these are identical to the party members at the beginning of the fight, current HP aside (I think). If you get confused, changing the colour of a character does not change the colour of the respective Doppelganger after they’ve been created.

2. Doppelgangers will attack physically, for however much damage the copied character would do with you as a target.

3. Doppelgangers will not use spells. They might not use other special abilities, but I haven’t tested that.

…and that’s it. They don’t even have the boss-standard attack and defense debuffs. Pretty simple, hm?
Not so simple if you have three AI characters tagging along, or if you’re playing with other people, though. The clones are reasonably aggressive, but are very erratic and might not necessarily move towards you, or may start attacking before you’re in range.
If you’re having problems telling apart party member from clone, changing the colour of your character even before you enter the room does not change the colour of the clone; it will always be the basic colours for your class. Alternatively, you could just switch on the player indicator, or even show directional arrows. It’s all somewhat cheating, but this fight isn’t difficult even at high levels, as the bosses are created explicitly to be equal to you. With four people, it’d just be an incredibly chaotic fight, and a nice excuse to beat up something that looks like your friend’s character.

Loot

First Trip:

“Hmmm, there are markings on that thing which seem to indicate demonic work.”
“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“…yeah.”

Guardian Armor [Armour]
[At.16, Df.95]
[War, Dwf]
Armor forged by the warlords of hell.

Material Magic [Object]
Crystal of solid magic.
(Strengthens weapon)

Second Trip:

“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“Not this time.”

Merlin’s Ring [Accessory]
[Int.24, Pow.16, (Mat.24? Mdf.20?)]
[All]
Favourite ring of the great sorcerer Merlin.

Mirror Armor [Armour]
[Df.52]
[War, Dwf]
Silver armor with a fine reflective exterior.

Another eight Material Magics…

Third Trip:

Reflector Ring [Accessory]
[Chance to guard against spells to take no damage?]
[All]
A ring that protects the wearer from magic.

One more Material Magic…

Once again more exceedingly shiny things that I can’t use… but the Material Magics are a start. Maybe if I got fifty of the Materials… but one alone isn’t enough to improve the Healing Robe as much as I want.
I’ve discussed Materials before, but Material Magic is a special case; instead of increasing (or decreasing) elements on a weapon or armour, Material Magic increases its At. or Df. stats; therefore increasing the raw damage you do with a weapon, or the damage reduced by a piece of armour. Because Material Magic will never actually decrease the damage you deal, or increase the damage you take, it is by far the most useful and valuable of the Materials that you can find or buy from the Retired Knight. As Material Magic can be picked up from the chests, from gargoyles, from the slimes and from the metallic wisps, the Ancient Ruins are a very good place for collecting them… once you’re strong enough to kill off the wisps.

Finally! Something good I can use! Merlin’s Ring is rather awe-inspiring, especially since I haven’t gotten anything truly useful for a caster since the first trip to Labyrinth of the Dead (…which was the Talisman, zombies drop loads – incidentally, their effect stacks). This is another of the items you can get from the two hidden chests on the surface’s underlevel. Regarding the uncertainty with the last two effects, I’m not sure whether increasing Intelligence and Power affects Magic Attack and Magic Defense. It’s pathetic to say, but I don’t have anything else I can test with.

The Mirror Armor didn’t come from one of the chests; one of the metallic wisps dropped it. They seem to drop Material Magic much more often, though, so keep that in mind if you want it. It’s not brilliant compared to Guardian Armor, all I know about it is from what the game tells me; I don’t know whether it boosts stats, or has a chance of reflecting spells, or anything else like that, as I can’t equip it to check.
Likewise the Guardian Armor, of course.
Oh, and once again, I forget to take a picture of something before discarding it. Bah.

The Reflector Ring is an odd accessory; doing absolutely nothing for any of your stats, it instead gives you the random chance to Guard against a spell and take no damage. Whether your stats alter the chance of that happening or not, I’m not sure.
It’s not better than a Dragon Scale and it’s certainly not better than Merlin’s Ring, so I’m not using it. I like how it looks, though; seems reminiscent of Eternal Ring.

Item(s) of the Day

Power Symbol [Accessory]
[Fire.8, Str.32, Con.15]
[All]
Talisman that draws out one’s hidden strengths.

So I went to the Old Palace after finding myself unable to clear the Abandoned Mine… again. It so happened that, whilst practicing a certain spell, this dropped from one of the two black swordsmen guaranteed to spawn in the room between the Sagestone-locked door, and the room with the healing circle.
Strength is good if you’re hitting stuff, obviously, so on that note this item is better for any melee-type than a caster. However, Constitution is very good in general, for all classes, and 15 points is brilliant, compared to the accessories available in the first parts of any area. Just watch out for the 8 points the item gives towards fire; don’t try to use it against the Kraken.

Spell(s) of the Day

Explosion
MP: 45
Command: O ∆ O O ∆ (∆O) O
Creates balls of fire which explode on impact.

Explosion produces a small-sized orb in front of the caster; this can damage enemies, for the same amount as the spell’s main effect, but its range is comparable to the Sorcerer’s wand. After a few moments, the orb explodes, dealing damage to all enemies in medium range. As a fifth-level spell, Explosion has a very long natural casting time, but it deals exceptional damage; 80 points if something resists, to around 150 points normally.
Here we start with the really good spells. Explosion is the first spell learned from the fifth level of spells, and is part of a set of spells that should be considered upgraded versions of certain third-level spells. Explosion, as the spellcode suggests, is the upgraded form of Blaze. Where the original was a moving AoE, Explosion produces a lot of damage in one (or two) hits, making it much more similar in form to Lightningbolt.
The best way to use Explosion alone is, like any other spell its level, through its spellcode. I recommend keeping one of the third-level spells on the main casting button, for emergencies and not-tough enemies, and practicing hitting the keys for Explosion somewhere near a healing circle, so you can practice until you’re sure you’ve got it. In a party of friends, you might be able to survive casting it from the casting button, but you’ll almost always be casting slower than using the sequence of commands for the spell, so unless you’re running low on MP, you’d be better off learning the spellcode anyway.

Come to think of it, the third-level spells were upgrades of the first-level spells, weren’t they? And the fourth-level spells upgrades of the second level. The problem with the second- and fourth-level spells is… well… they’re not all that useful. There are many more enemies weaker to the normal elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind) than to Light and Darkness, and the first-, third- and fifth-level spells are, for the most part, much easier to use. The non-elemental spells (Magic Missile, Smash, Enchant Weapon, Dispell Magic and Petrifaction) are far more situational, or of limited use due to their cost; just look at Dispell Magic. When you get that, generally you’re still facing things that can barely manage the first level of Fairy spells.

Back north again

Well, I’m back in my room (not) ready for university (in the slightest).
I stll have a week to go, as it’s Fresher’s week starting next monday, but I still don’t feel ready to go back to university yet.

I also have yet to adjust to a ‘sane’ sleeping cycle, and still happily sleep at 3am or later, and wake around noon. I suppose I’d better spend the last week free getting back to being able to get up at 7am without falling out of bed.

The Ruins in the Lake (2)

– The Lake Ruins –

A lake where a great city is said to have existed in ancient times. Ruins tower up out of the water’s surface…

I touched upon this place earlier; the Ruins in the Lake is another of my favourite regions in Blaze & Blade. It has great music, it looked spectacular at the time the game was released, and it has a fun boss fight at the end. It also doesn’t take three to six hours to reach the boss, so if you realise you’re not going to be able to beat something, you won’t feel like the last five hours of your life have been spent in vain.
Not that I’m bitter, but I really do hate the Troll.
I probably wouldn’t like the game as much if all the regions were as short as the Valley of White Silver, the Ancient Ruins and the Ruins in the Lake, though, even if there were many more regions in total than the game currently has.
Long regions require thought, if not careful planning; rationing of items, puzzles, sub-bosses, bosses. They take a long time to work through even if you know where everything is, as they can be absolutely huge. But it’s fun just wandering around a large region and seeing the sights, and fighting the monsters. The payoff is usually more treasure than you alone can carry.
On the other hand, short regions are more immediate tests of raw power; the only major challenge in a small region is its boss, and in both the Ancient Ruins and the Ruins in the Lake, you have to defeat the boss to get out with your loot. Well, unless you’re sneaky and bring a Rope of Return to the Ancient Ruins. The Valley of White Silver, meanwhile, has only a single guaranteed chest – that I know about – but it’s the simplest of the optional areas. They’re good breaks between long adventures in, say, the Abandoned Mine.

Looking at the layout of the region, it’s my theory that either the lake formed around the city, or the city sank into the lake. Why?
Well, we have a path to walk on, but in the entire accessible area we can only find three buildings; the two towers on the north and south ends of the two paths, and the building with the Kraken. Not, to my eyes, the makings of a city.
Unless we’re walking on the top of a wall, or raised pathway. The main buldings of the city are submerged and unreachable, and we’re walking on the upper floors of two towers and the… well, the northernmost building was probably a shrine, especially since it contains the tablet describing the Reincarnation spell.
There isn’t anything contradicting that theory, but there’s nothing actually supporting it within the game, either, aside from the pit the Kraken resides in. The science-geek within me comments that the room you fight Kraken in should be at least half-full of water, as the floor is below the local water level.

…speaking of which, the Kraken. Of all the optional bosses made available immediately after collecting four jewels, Kraken is probably the toughest; It’s made up of eleven separate parts, only ten of which can take damage, and a lot of those component parts aren’t always attackable in melee. However, even for casters this battle can be difficult, as Kraken has a number of abilities that are worse for characters standing still.

Attacks:

1. Kraken’s head can cast a very large-area Blizzard spell. You can’t really fail to see this one coming, as the spellcircles that spring up around Kraken’s head are absolutely huge, and it doesn’t cast anything else. The entire room also goes blue whilst the animation’s running. Make sure you’re moving away as the spell goes off.
Kraken’s head will also attack you, but for about the same damage at the feet. It looks like it’s charging you, but I’ve never seen it do that for real.
There’s only one head, obviously, and it’s immune to damage.

2. Kraken’s ‘arms’ – tentacles ending in a spade-like section – can send waves of water at you, similar to the 2nd Level spell Dark Wave. This isn’t a spell, however, and though the arm does have an animation for the attack, usually the only warning you’ll have is the beginning of the attack’s animation, and the sound effect. This attack doesn’t push you back, but otherwise acts like numerous Water Bullets, you’ll continue to take damage until the wave is completely through your body. It’s difficult to dodge, as the wave affects such a large area, but it does spread out in the direction the beginning of the animation points in, which can help.
Arms can also attack you normally, with a chance of being stunned. Naturally, this is bad. Thankfully, they don’t normally get in melee range of you unless most of the plain tentacles are dead.
Kraken has two arms.

3. Plain tentacles – tentacle legs? – just continually attack you for low water-element damage. They range to just under half the distance between the pit and the walls, so they are easy to avoid by just hugging a wall, but if you go within melee range of Kraken’s pit, you’ll be constantly attacked by all the tentacles that can reach you. Like any attack, you’ll be held still for a short moment; if you’re trying to dodge either of Kraken’s other attacks, don’t run around the east side of the room, as unless you jump onto the raised area, you’ll be in range of these attacks.
Plain tentacles can also send a smaller, single wave of water at you; looks like a thin version of Water Bullet, and pierces, but doesn’t hit multiple times like the real thing, or the arm tentacles’ waves. They don’t seem to do this attack often, even when you’re out of range of their physical attack, but it doesn’t do much damage.
There are eight plain tentacles.

All of Kraken’s attacks are water-element, so equipment or accessories that defend against water are a very good choice. All of Kraken’s body pieces get to act at the same time; you’ll be simultaneously facing waves of water, Blizzard spells, and attacks from the remaining plain tentacles throughout the fight. ‘Killing’ Kraken – or forcing it to retreat – is a matter of destroying all its limbs, as the head won’t take damage.

With water resistance (from the Aqua Shawl), Kraken’s most dangerous attack is the large waves its arms can generate; they’ll hit at least three or four times before the wave passes through you entirely, and the damage isn’t reduced like that of Blizzard.

Blaze is a good spell for the start of this fight; though all of Kraken’s parts are located in a pit, most of Kraken’s parts cluster around the edge of the pit closest to you, allowing Blaze to hit most if not all of the normal tentacles. Lightning Bolt is also good, as it’s likely to hit any body parts hanging around the other side of the pit; well-aimed, it can hit more than half of Kraken’s limbs, thanks to its habit of jumping from one enemy to the next.
Eventually you’ll have to switch to something other than Blaze, as it tends to fall into the pit rather than hit anything, once enough parts are killed. Killing all of Kraken’s tentacles might kill the creature, or it might be dealing damage to the head. I’m not sure, as it’s difficult to tell what the final spell strikes.
Be prepared to jump into the pit and take damage if you want any of the loot directly from this fight; that IS a bottomless pit, and any chests that drop will be forever lost if they fall to the bottom without you landing on them first.

Beating Kraken causes the time in the area to shift from early evening to twilight. I’ve always thought that to be a brilliant touch, but it also always caused me to have problems getting out of the northern building, as the windows are no longer lit.
More relevantly, chest will appear in each of the four corners of the paths around the area, with your reward for the fight; consolation for all the chests players usually see falling in the pit. No more enemies will spawn after the Kraken fight; even the black lizardmen in the ruined towers vanish.
Priests shouldn’t forget the tablet on the east side of the room; check the back of it for Resurrection. I don’t think this is readable in the middle of the fight against Kraken, however, so even Priests have to beat the demon.

Loot (now with icons!)

You may notice I’ve more than four separate items here. That’s because I went through four runs, for a well-needed break after the Abandoned Mine fiasco.
Ice Sword, by the by, has no icon because I discarded it before thinking about it, and my latest runs didn’t produce one.

Aqua Shawl [Accessory]
[Int.8, Water.20]
[All]
Magical shawl worn by the spirit of water.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Material Water [Object]
Magic crystal water.
(Water attr. to weapon)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Ice Sword [Weapon]
[At.34, Water.12]
[War]
Sword of black ice, supposedly forged by ice fairies.
“Hmmm, there are markings on that thing which seem to indicate demonic work.”
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Ice Jewel
Gem of ice.
(Activates Blizzard; 25% Destruction)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Element Cloak [Accessory]
[Df.17]
[Elf, Dwf, Fai]
Cloak enchanted with the strength of spirits.
“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”

Ice Shield [Shield]
[Df.18, Water.8]
[War, Dwf]
Shield made of ice inhabited by water spirits.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Items like Aqua Shawl, with extra defence against water, are pretty good if you intend to go on extra runs against Kraken. The unmarked eight points of Intelligence help any caster, to boot; on the other hand, the Aqua Shawl also affects the element of your weapon, so this isn’t a nice piece of gear for people who can’t use spells or spell-like items.
Aqua Shawl reduces water damage from spells to 1 point a hit, and this may be independent of the accessory’s listed water-element points; Earth Tiara acts similarly for multiple elements, and yet has no elemental points to it. I’ll have to check it if I find that item again. It’s almost a prerequisite for beating a later boss alone.

So, Materials also boost your armour’s elements, in addition to the elemental values of your weapon. This is why it’s fairly important to unequip armour or weapons if you don’t want the element on them; sometimes you’ll want an element on your armour that directly conflicts with elements already on your weapon – such as, Evil-element already on your armour when you want to put Holy-element points on your weapon. Using a Holy Material in that situation would reduce the Evil-element on your armour, if memory serves. In this case, were I actually likely to use my current weapon (a Pure Wand – I never get lucky with weapon chests, it’s always something for another class) in combat against Kraken, using these Water Materials would be a bad idea, as Kraken probably has a very high resistance to that element. Water Materials are fairly common from the post-Kraken chests; I got one or two each run. Save them, if you have space, as you’ll probably want them later.

Unlike armour and accessories, water-element weapons aren’t great for this area; you’ll love them later on, but it’s a bad idea to use Ice Sword at the Ruins in the Lake, for obvious reasons. I got this on two separate runs, so it might be more common than other equipment. (So saying, now that I need it for its icon, it refuses to appear.)
On the subject of unequippable stuff… Element Cloak, my first ‘holy’ item on this character, and I can’t equip it. Bah. It probably provides resistance to elements, or a boost to stats, but I can’t tell.
Whoo, an Ice Shield. This place doesn’t like Sorcerers.

“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“…yes.”

Item of the Day

Talisman [Accessory]
[Recover slightly more MP from natural regeneration, when equipped.]
[All]
Accelerates the recovery of magical energy.

…because running out of MP, as a caster, is a really bad thing. The Talisman doesn’t provide constant regeneration like the Healing Robe does, but instead increases the amount of MP gained each ‘tick’ of natural regeneration; for me, I get 7MP without it, but with it, 9MP.
Okay, 2MP extra per tick isn’t much, but in a boss fight, when you’re down to the point of being unable to cast spells, and you have no MP items, you’re stuck relying on your natural regeneration of MP. Anything that raises the amount you regenerate helps you in all situations where your MP gauge is more than a single tick away from being full.

Spell of the Day

Blaze
MP: 16
Command: O ∆ O □ O
The ground beneath the opponents bursts into flame.

A medium-range piercing AoE fire-element spell. Doesn’t take too long to cast, and moves at a reasonable pace. Can hit enemies more than once, but only if they’re moving in the same direction as the spell, or if they’re large enough to still be sitting on the spell after invincibility wears off. Strikes flying enemies without trouble, but is subject to gravity.
The first learned spell of the trio of 3rd Level 16MP attack spells, and my favourite, naturally this is the one I get around to covering last. Between Blizzard and Lightningbolt in almost all aspects; it has the same general shape as Blizzard, affecting a roughly-circular area whilst moving in the direction cast towards, but covers a smaller area and moves quicker. Both Blizzard and Blaze can strike enemies directly behind you, too. Does more damage than Blizzard per hit, but less than Lightningbolt; if it hits an enemy three times, it deals more than Lightningbolt, but that usually only happens with large enemies.
Blaze is the only spell of the three that is subject to gravity; it falls into pits which Lightningbolt and Blizzard would both happily float over, so keep that in mind.

Aftermath

Ergh…
So, as my current tactics for the Troll boil down to exploiting its tendency to keep walking into the edge of the platform rather than rounding the corner every single time, I’m thinking I’ll come back later. Ten or twenty more levels and I’ll probably stand a chance of success.
Good thing I brought a Rope of Return this time.

Loot

Silver Medal [Accessory]
Increases the wearer’s defense during attacks.
[Prevents extra damage when being attacked whilst attacking, or casting?]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Crystal Earrings [Accessory]
Said to strengthen mind and spirit.
[Wil.20]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Princess Locket [Accessory]
Beautiful locket of an ancient princess.
[Immune to Sleep]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

The medals – Bronze, Silver and Gold – are an odd set of accessories. They don’t increase your stats, they don’t provide immunity to anything, and they all have the same description. ‘Increases the wearer’s defense during attacks.‘ Occasionally, I think I’m taking more damage when casting or attacking; maybe critical hits, maybe not. It IS a shock seeing myself take 87 points of wind damage in a single hit from Griffon, anyway. These medals might do something about it.
You’re guaranteed a Medal of some description pretty early on in the Abandoned Mine, and you’re not likely to have two other Accessories by that point, so it’s worth wearing whatever you get and seeing if it makes a difference.

Twenty points of Willpower isn’t something to sneer at, if you’re having trouble and taking a lot of damage from spells. Probably slightly more useful to a non-spellcasting class, but I’m not sure whether Willpower increases more for a Sorcerer, Priest or Fairy anyway. Generally useful, but it doesn’t boost any attacks.

Princess Locket was the item from just outside the Troll’s room. According to the previously-mentioned Item List by holypriest, Princess Locket bestows immunity to sleep. In the first half of the game, or for any character with low resistance to magic, Sleep is a very nasty spell; the enemy variant both deals damage – the Fairy version doesn’t do that, but I remember the enemies in Old Palace dealing damage with it, for some reason – and has a high chance of sending you to sleep. If you’re somehow standing where enemies can’t hit you, it takes a long time for the status to wear off, and if they can hit you, you’ll probably take extra damage from the attack.

Also, another Feather Pen. I don’t think the effect of the Feather Pen is that noticeable. They may have helped a little, but as MP regenerates in large chunks rather than in one or two points every second like HP does, it’s still a long wait between spells. I should have brought the Perfume instead.
Might have been another translation error, and the Feather Pen instead helps magically recover HP. Or maybe it does something else entirely. I don’t know.

Item of the Day

Life Potion [Object]
Potion of the essence of life.
(Restores HP)

Pretty simple, huh? Life Potions usually restore somewhere between 200 and 300 HP each use. Whilst a Healing Pin (10~ to 20~ HP/use, 25% chance of breaking) can match the output of a Healing Potion (50~ to 70~ HP/use) with a little luck, it takes time to use a Healing Pin that much.
Being able to match a Life Potion with Healing Pins means you’re probably not in combat, and you’re far too lucky for your own good, wasting it on something like that. As with any healing item, Life Potions can be life-saving. The only problem is getting ahold of them in the first place.

Spell of the Day

Magic Ray (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 24 + 6/sec
Command: ∆ O X X O ∆ O
Cutting beams of light form arrows to shoot enemy.
(Just like casting Magic Missile times Fire Bullet. The cost works out like that, too.)

For as long as it is maintained, Magic Ray creates a light-coloured orb above your head that fires small Magic Missile-like projectiles at all enemies within at least medium range.
Magic Ray is the first listed fourth-level Sorcerer spell. Like Poison Cloud, this is a spell that needs to be maintained; the casting button has to be held down. Actually, casting this by spellcode is fairly tricky, as though you hold Select to tap in the code, and release that to start the spell itself, X needs to be held down before the effect starts to appear. Failing that nets you a single double-strength Magic Missile.
You really need to start using the codes for fourth-level spells and upwards, at least as a Sorcerer; casting by single-button takes four seconds to even begin, which seems an eternity in the middle of a fight. This spell is also fairly situational; you get the best value for your MP if you cast it in the middle of a mob, exactly the wrong situation to be spending four seconds not dealing damage in. All of the fourth-level spells take eight or more keypresses to complete, and two of the spells require keys pressed  simultaneously; they’re that much more powerful than lesser spells.

The Abandoned Mine (2) – The Ruins Within the Earth

So, what ARE these things supposed to be?


I think that might be a beard…

Heavily-armoured antisocial sword-waving dwarves?

At any rate, back on Underlevel 5…

I never get tired of killing that thing.

So, foolery aside, this is the gate to the further underlevels of the Abandoned Mine. Though the real ‘part two’ of the Abandoned Mine doesn’t really begin until you go down to the next level, as soon as you pass through the gate, you’ll be facing stronger enemies than demonic centipedes, or whatever it is about to jump me in that picture.

Underlevel 6 is more or less a repeat of the action back on Underlevel 4; travelling between disconnected floating rocky paths via magic hovering platforms. There are at least three chests distributed around the area, too, including another chance at a Luck Talisman.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of random monsters here; most of the enemies I encountered were guaranteed, already-there ‘spawns’, so they’re going to be there, whether you like it or not. The upshot is that it’s safe for you to wait between fights, if you’re having problems.

So, whilst the 6th underlevel has water and floating rock paths, and crabs, the 7th has a raised path of ice above a floating path of rock.
And bears. Falling off the ice path – which isn’t slippery, happily – can be troublesome here, as sometimes instead of falling into the abyss, dropping off the ice path will instead deposit you on the lower, rock path, necessitating a walk back to the beginning of the icy route. Icy boulders block portions of the lower route, so you have to switch between the icy and rocky paths to get through. Also, the random spawn is back, so you have to contend with more monsters if you hang around too long.
Pushing a couple of iceblocks around will let you at a chest, if you have the patience for it, but as you also need to do that to access the way to the next area, it’s difficult to miss unless you don’t check past the exit.

I like the second part of the Abandoned Mine, but I really can’t tell what the miners managed to dig into, here. The water is a stretch to accept in the first place, but the ice goes a bit beyond that. The swinging baskets don’t make that much sense, either, though they are a reasonably safe spot to rest on.

If there’s any (non-boss) enemy I hate here, it’s the red ogres; they’re almost entirely immune to Fire, and take low damage from anything else besides. They can deal a lot of (Evil) damage with each attack, and can soak a lot of damage before they go down. Facing these are usually more trouble than they’re worth, and they have a habit of spawning at dead ends from the 8th underlevel onwards.
The other enemies in the area aren’t as bad; blue slimes can do an appreciable amount of damage if four are trying to digest you at the same time, and green wisps can only a little less health than the red ogres, but the bears can’t knock you onto a lower ledge you’ll have to backtrack from, so they’re now just a negligible threat.

Underlevel 9’s path is mostly linear; you do have to switch between different levels of platform, via the somewhat-fun giant springs, but the path you should take to proceed is pretty obvious. All the branches are either very short dead-ends, or lead to treasure and are dead-ends.
You also need to dodge falling icicles at times. They’re smaller than the boulders way back at underlevel 1, so they’re much easier to avoid even if the game doesn’t make it clear where they’re actually falling.

There’s a portal on underlevel 9 that takes you down to the boss zone, ‘The Ruins Within the Earth’. It’s a fair walk to the arena for the boss fight, from where the portal places you, and enemies will spawn on the way there; common spawns include red ogres, green wisps, and the new… green ogres, which have larger axes and a weakness to wind element stuff, but more HP than the red ogres.
Nicely, there’s a chest on the way to the boss. Don’t miss it, as it’s a long walk back. Also, if you turn left, rather than right, on entering the central area, you’ll find a savepoint. I recommend using it.

Fun fact:
This was the boss that lead me to discover the, uh, ‘trick’ under my name (Rebecca) in holypriest’s brilliant Item List at GameFAQs.
You know, the one that blatantly abuses Blaze & Blade’s tendency to let spells, other projectiles, statuses and, most importantly, NATURAL HEALING, continue when a controller removed – or set to Dual Shock mode, too modern for Blaze & Blade to detect – whilst everything else freezes in place.

Yeah, The Troll was one of the worst bosses I fought as an Elf. I got very lucky with a later boss that should have been much worse, somehow managing to pick up the one accessory that nullified most of its attacks.
Enough about that one. For now.

The Troll begins with two green ogres as minions. It has a fairly small arena, fitting in a single screen when the camera is fully zoomed out, and is surrounded by deep water. This is a very hectic fight, as you need to keep an eye on (…and kill) the two green ogre minions, but you really don’t want to get hit by some of the Troll’s attacks, either.

Attacks:

1. Normal attacks from the Troll can deal a lot of damage; he can deal up to 60 points a hit.

2. The Troll can leap forward to attack you, which can stun you for a moderate length of time; usually enough for it or something else to hurt you again. This attack will also knock you back a short distance, and deal a small amount of damage, but both of those are negligible compared to the chance of being stunned.
You can see this one coming, but it’s difficult to get out of range since the Troll moves pretty quickly during it, like most ‘charge’ attacks. Don’t get stunned.

3. The Troll can uppercut you, too; this attack will deal low damage, and throw you back, but I don’t know whether it has the same chance of stunning you as the charge does, as well.

4. The Troll has the usual boss Def./Att. debuff skills, with approximately the same range as the Baby Dragon. These are impossible for me to tell apart, and the effect might just be random anyway, but… getting your defence lowered is very bad, naturally, as it tends to result in hits of 70+ damage.

Many deaths, maaany deaths.
Many-many-one deaths, to be precise. I suspect Troll may be easier for a melee class with better armour, but for a caster it’s pretty bad, and any character should probably bring along a few healing items, just to see you through the minions.
Due to the small size of the arena, and the sheer aggressiveness of the Troll, 90% of the time it’s just not possible to stay out of range and cast from a distance. Any spell that requires you to stay still – anything that takes maintenance, but also anything with a long casting time – is a bad idea. Lightningbolt or anything with wind-element on it would be a good idea, as the green ogres are weak to it, and the Troll isn’t resistant. Spark Bullet isn’t a good idea because even at that short a time spent casting, the Troll is likely to catch up with you, and 15 or so damage isn’t worth it compared to 50 on the Troll and 70 on his minions.
Surprisingly, if you can get the Troll to back off for ten seconds, Magic Ray is good for wiping out the green ogres. With the minions gone, if you need HP or MP, you can run in circles directly away from the Troll; that seems to be just about fast enough to avoid everything the troll does. It’s also usually better to drop off the platform rather than get hit by any of his attacks, as both will give you short-lived invincibility, but falling causes less damage. Just be careful, as it is possible to get stunned whilst jumping off, and stunning persists once you arrive back on the platform.
It’s a little cheap, but once the minions are down, probably the best thing to do as a caster is hang around on the bridge from the entrance and keep the big dumb Troll walking against the edge of the main platform, to the side, and to jump off and away if he works out how to approach you, hopefully geting him caught against the edge of the bridge instead. He tends to beeline straight for your character, so it can give you a much-needed chance to rest.

AUGH. Nine deaths and I still can’t beat it. I’m taking a break for the day.

Item of the Day

Healing Robe
[Df.36, Holy.20]
[Pri,Sor,Fai]
A life-saving robe which heals its wearer.

The description really isn’t kidding; this robe does heal its wearer, and as a result it is life-saving. More times than I can count, it has kept me going in boss fights with only a pair of Healing Pins to go on.
Up to the Troll, anyway. Wearing the Healing Robe restores 1 point of HP each second, approximately, regardless of what you’re doing at the time. Provided you can stay outside your enemy’s reach for long enough, you can survive anything (that doesn’t kill you outright).
Incidentally, Materials do affect armour; the Healing Robe only naturally has 20 points of Holy element to it, yet mine has 3 points of Light and 2 of Earth to it… matching the effect of Materials on my weapon. As soon as I get enough Fate Coins, I’m buying Material Magic for this thing.

Spell of the Day

Blizzard
MP: 16
Command: X ∆ X X
Innumerable ice crystals hail down upon the foes.

A medium range water-element spell that affects a very wide area, but moves slowly, and takes slightly longer to cast than other spells of the same level. Technically piercing. Notable enemies possessing this spell include Dark Elf on your first encounter in Old Palace, and Kraken at the Ruins in the Lake; Kraken’s variant is larger than the one you and the Dark Elf can cast, so watch out for it.
Blizzard is another of the three third-level 16MP elemental attack spells, along with Blaze and Lightning Bolt. I have to say Blizzard is my least favourite of the three; it’s the slowest to cast and start once the animation begins, and seems to be the weakest, dealing the least damage unless used against something with a weakness. However, as it is the slowest-moving spell of the three, it has the highest chance of hitting enemies multiple times with a single casting, and can be especially devastating to water-weak enemies.

The Abandoned Mine (1) – Underlevels 1 to 5

I never posted about this place the first time I visited. That’s probably because I visited before I got into the habit of writing about each region, but it’s also because this place is so utterly hellish for casters, with many sleep-loving magic goblins, other monsters with powerful physical attacks, poisonous snakes and scorpions, and not much room to dodge or run from stuff, that I eventually gave up and went to Old Palace to level there, instead.
…well, I ended up returning here after failing to beat Dark Elf a couple of times. Lightning Bolt is a nasty spell to face. So I eventually beat this place before Old Palace, but only by a little.
THIS time I’m going here first, as I might as well write about the first part of this area sometime.

The Abandoned Mine is the remains of an old mine.
Way to state the obvious, whoo.
From the old man’s comments in the inn, I think it was abandoned relatively recently; that is, not centuries ago, like some of the ruins in Foresia, but within a generation or two. I’m not sure what they were mining FOR; maybe magic crystals, maybe iron, maybe coal.
Being a mine with what are probably gas… braziers, rather than an ancient ruin with magitech lighting, it’s pretty dark in there. Up until solving a certain puzzle that provides a little more illumination, which doesn’t last long, it’s next to impossible to tell when you’re walking up to a ledge and are about to drop off out of sight. With a TV you can just fiddle with the settings; with an old computer monitor, like the one I have here, it’s habitually set bright as possible by default, so I have no salvation there. I don’t even have this problem with the Ancient Ruins, so you can see part of why I dislike this place.

This area, like most others, has favoured classes; I haven’t mentioned it before, but certain areas are just built around the abilities of a certain class or two. They help access extra areas, or solve puzzles. This area likes Fairies, for extra loot at no damage, and Dwarves, for a quicker solution to a puzzle. The Abandoned Mines just brings it to mind as, early on, there’s a chest you can only access by either taking damage, or having the Levitation effect… automatic on a Fairy, bestowed by a Fairy spell, or bestowed by an item that, annoyingly, can be picked up from this chest.
I don’t know how Fairies do on conveyor belts, but there’s definitely more damaging floor later on in.
Other areas… off the top of my head, Valley of White Silver doesn’t really have a class in mind, structure-wise, that I noticed. The Wood of Ruins loves Hunters, and it’s the only place they get any love. I’ll be returning to everywhere else at some point, so I’ll address good classes for the other areas there.

This being a mine, there are the obligatory falling-rock hazards; when you first come here, getting hit by one of these can be a one-hit kill. It was for me, and they still deal more than creatures in the Valley of White Silver or the Wood of Ruins ‘Holy Land’ do. The rocks fall regularly and always in the same spots, marked by shadows, but with the trouble I have seeing in the area, it’s easy to miss those if you haven’t played in a decade or so.
You wouldn’t really expect there to be general falling hazards, but there are more chasms to avoid than boulders. Chasms make more sense than eternal rockfalls, but… why are there either? Tight passages would be even more annoying, and the game has a problem with certain walls and blocking view of the ground.
This being a abandoned mine, you also have to contend with random junk left lying about, such as wheelbarrows, barrels, crates and carts. You can push them about and jump on them, but there isn’t a point where you need to do that, I think. Other than the interactive junk, you can also spot discarded shovels and pickaxes on the ground. Nice touch.

Oh, yeah. I hate bats. When I first arrived at the Abandoned Mines, I didn’t yet have Magic Missile. The one weakness of the Water Bullet spell is that it can’t hit flying enemies. Bats are a more annoying version of the Beetle from Wood of Ruins, as they tend to spawn more in groups, rather than singularly with other enemies. Bats are the reason I gave up and went to Old Palace, instead. Beetles can spawn in groups of four or six, too, but that’s relatively rare. Bats always seem to turn up in large numbers, whenever they appear.
Of course, this time I can tap out the code for Magic Missile and fry the blasted things. Hee, this is fun.

There’s a two-players-or-more puzzle on the third underlevel, in the area with the waterfall and pier. See the sparkle on the pier? That’s a key, but if anyone tries to take it, the pier will collapse, leaving whoever went to get it on a piece of wood floating towards the waterfall. Falling into the water makes you drop the key, even though you reappear miraculously mostly-unharmed by the ordeal a few seconds later.
Whilst you’re (un)happily floating towards watery oblivion, the other player has to get to a switch that lowers a bridge for you to jump onto. There are stone platforms in the water; it might be that the other player has to go across those to stand a chance of getting to the switch in time, or to stay on screen and not pull you off the raft. I don’t usually play multiplayer, but I think that’s how it goes.
Most other main areas also have mulitplayer puzzles. The Wood of Ruins has a barrel-and-knives game. Remember Pop-Up Pirate?
Yeah, that. ‘cept you’re the pirate. Or your unlucky friend. All these puzzles give a decent amount of loot, though I think the Palace of the Immortals puzzle also opens a shortcut.

Another minor touch:

Grand Miner Recruitment!
The Opportunity – wouldn’t you like to become a miner?
A bright workplace, a fulfilling occupation and amazingly high wages – enough reason for you to change your vocation.
Details in personal interview.
We’re waiting for you!

A recruitment poster for miners. In a mine. I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be an old and
redundant poster, or a modern ‘hey, adventurers, you’re down here! You
like mines, don’t you?’ kind of thing. Either way, it’s amusing.
Rebecca says: Nobody’s buying it…

Announcement of lost and found.
The following objects have been found.
Would the owner please report.
Suntan lotion, fishing pole, flower pot for sunflowers, sundial, paintings from the south…

Someone wasn’t cut out to be a miner, hm?
Rebecca says:

Then there’s the area with the huge chasm, floating platforms and quicksand pit on the fourth underlevel. That’s the one area that really doesn’t make sense in a mine. It’s also the one main obstacle to my theory that the actual mine is recent, rather than ancient.
There’s a healing circle over the quicksand pit, if you can negotiate the platforms.

In that area, though, there’s an raised platform over a hole. There are several pieces of pushable mines-junk sitting on the raised area. Pushing each item off, one-by-one, nets you a message, and a guaranteed enemy spawn. One enemy for each item… until the last one, that really pisses off the person below, netting you five enemies to avoid.
Semi-secret… unless you’re like me and love messing around like that. This is a decent source of experience, as snakes, scorpions and spiders give a lot for this point in the game, and otherwise they tend to spawn in an awkward area, normally. They ARE powerful enough to kill in a few hits as a Sorceress, however, so it’s always worth being careful.
Plus, I always like annoying the thing below. Or the mostly-absent narrator. Whatever it is.

The area’s first boss is a Baby Dragon, one of the smaller mid-bosses; larger than Dark Elf and Dullahan, but smaller than the Owlbear and Behemoth. About the same size as the Weretiger and Werewolf bosses from Palace of the Immortals. A mid-size mid-boss?
Anyway, like any self-respecting dragon, it loves using its fire breath on you. It has the standard mid-boss attack and defence debuffs at short range – perhaps one length of its own body. Other than that, it charges at you, and attacks normally.
Unlike Behemoth, this boss is pretty challenging; the Baby Dragon is aggressive about staying in range to attack you, and moves pretty quickly; you tend to get charged and clawed a lot, in this fight, and don’t get much of a chance to rest up, so you’re dependent on whatever healing items you still have hanging around. All of its attacks are fire element, but it’s not likely you have anything that adds resistance against that, right now.
Fighting the thing was always a matter of trying in vain to avoid it, and praying my Healing Pins held out once my potions ran dry. NOW it’s easy, but…
Well, there’s something interesting about this boss, but I’ll go into that later.

Beating the Baby opens the way to an elevator out of the mines, but it doesn’t stay on subsequent visits. I have a lot of new loot, so I’ll take that back to the surface, and take a break for the moment.

Loot

Luck Talisman
Amulet that brings the wearer good luck.
[Lck.32]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Fine Axe
A very fine axe forged by great smiths.
[At.29]
[Dwf]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Silver Gauntlets [Accessory?]
Beautiful gauntlets crafted from silver.
[At.10, Df.10]
[War, Dwf]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Dragon Scales
Supposedly wards off bad luck and misfortune.
[Df.12, Lck.16]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Resist Ring
Protects the wearer with mysterious powers.
[Mdf.16]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

And that’s not counting the discarded or ignored stuff, like the silver medal, boots, shield, and what I think may be a guaranteed piece of armour. The chest containing a medal – Bronze, Silver or Gold – is the one inside the fence that you have to jump to reach, on the way to the water for the flask. The possibly-guaranteed piece of armour can be found by going straight from the first chest on the fifth underlevel, rather than heading left and up to the boss.
All in all, the mines are pretty generous for chests.

Is it just me, or does the Luck Talisman look like a Dragonball Radar?
The medals. I’ve always gotten them in the same order – Bronze first, then Gold if I ever went to the chest again. And now Silver. I somehow didn’t pick it up the first time, but I’ll take it with me when I visit for the deeper trip.
Oh, and… yeah, Earth Jewels, from yesterday, aren’t useful. Using one eats up MP like the spell itself, needs you to hold a button for the effect to continue, and doesn’t do much damage anyway. Even if you weren’t a spell-using class, you wouldn’t want to use it for long, for risk of running out of MP and being stunned.

Item of the Day

Protect Ring
Protects with strange, mysterious powers.
[Df.16]
[All]

Counterpart to the Resist Ring listed above, I picked this up the first time I ran through the mines. 16 points in defence is nothing to laugh at, especially combined with a shiny new robe found nearby. I’ve been using this since the mines the first time, but it’s now being traded for the Dragon Scale, as I have all of 1 point in Luck at the moment, and it’s only a drop of 4 points defence.

Spell of the Day

Water Bullet (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 3
Command: X ∆ X
Waves form on the ground and attack the opponent.

A medium-range water-element spell, with both piercing and knock-back effects. I should probably explain what I mean by those; piercing means that the projectile doesn’t die out as soon as it hits a single enemy. That it will go through all enemies until it reaches the limits of its range, or hits a wall. Knock-back means that it will knock an enemy it hits backwards.
Having both of these on a single spell makes that spell very powerful,
as the wave of water first hits something and causes damage, then knocks the enemy
back… then hitting the enemy again, as it’s still in range of the damaging wave. I’ve seen this spell hit a single enemy five or six time in a single casting, causing damage far above what any first- or second-level spell can do. Get lucky and it’ll match Blaze.
The first spell learned by a Sorcerer, costing a whole 1 MP more than
Fire Bullet, Water Bullet will happily serve as primary offensive spell
until you start picking up the third-level spells. Design-wise, this probably wasn’t intended, but as a physically-weak Sorceress, at level 92 it can still make an excellent replacement for the pitiful range of a wand.

The Wood of Ruins (2) – the Ruins, the Canyon and the Holy Land

Being the first full-fledged area that you visit in Blaze & Blade, the Wood of Ruins is a pretty easy introduction to the game. Sure, there are monsters that can cause some trouble – namely, Beetles and Goblin Mages, for being tough to attack and for being able to cause a lot of damage, respectively – but the game never gets easier, and here the enemies are reasonably easy to run around and escape.
Though players can return to the Wood of Ruins at any point, the only way they can make progress after a certain point is by possessing the Sagestone and four jewels; the Boathouse Key allows adventurers to finally take a boat out to the ruins, but an important door won’t open until the Sagestone is four-ninths full.

Boating is… fun. If the boat were any smaller or flying enemies more plentiful, it’d be fun in the Dwarf Fortress sense, but as it is, it’s pretty well done. The eponymous Ruins of the Wood of Ruins are in and around a lake, so, naturally, in order to reach necessary portions of the ruins, you need to use the boat. Thankfully, you get instructions as soon as you enter the area. Directly ahead of where the player starts is a pier, and the door that won’t open until the Sagestone and jewels are brought to it. Nothing can be triggered in this area until that door is opened, at the very least, so curious low-level adventurers usually stop here, if they didn’t die to the wisps and treant already.
And a treant, and three wisps. The enemies in this area aren’t that bad; wisps are the only variety that fly, and they’re like griffons in that they can’t do much damage. Mercifully, they don’t have the griffons’ poke ‘o doom attack, either. Treants are tough casters that love to throw out Poison Cloud and Petrify; you don’t want to get hit by Petrify, but thankfully it’s short-range. Then there are light-blue lizardmen that last appeared in the Wood of Ruin’s swamps, and die in a single hit. More worrying are the new black lizardmen, much tougher than their younger blue siblings, dealing darkness damage with each hit. Lastly in this area there are rafflesia flower monsters that don’t do much or take much damage at all; they love to drop herbs, though.
A lot of the enemies in the area are weak to wind, so Lightning Bolt is a reasonable choice for attacking. Blaze is still a good choice, too, as it doesn’t do much less damage than Lightning Bolt.

Activating the ruins’ portal takes you to the Canyon, and the bane of my existence. Blaze & Blade does something very cruel here; the bridge? The short way to the other side? Attempting to cross it causes a pillar to collapse on it, without fail. You have to take the long way around.
The long way around is loooooooong. The enemies are the same as in the previous area, with perhaps the omission of the weaker blue lizardmen. There’s no treasure here, that I can see; the whole area’s just walking a long way in one direction, skirting around the edge of the canyon, and then walking back the whole way on the other side. Close to the end, there’s a bunch of wisps that I love trying to kill in one Lightning Bolt, but that’s about all the fun to be had here.

Past the Canyon is… the Holy Land, as an earlier sign mentioned. I assume they mean this place, rather than the Canyon; they were probably the ones who put that old bridge (…and pillar) up in the first place.
It’s been years since anyone visited, though. The ‘Holy Land’ is a desert, now, with quicksand pits and monsters; Basilisks and Wyverns predominantly, but also Giants who look a little like the Savage Fighter from the inn.
Wyverns are your standard flying annoyance, though they stop moving to attack you. Basilisks are lizards, though different from the lizardmen; as the name suggests, they can petrify you. Petrification is a very dangerous status alone, as it both freezes you in place until it wears off naturally, and saps your health like poison does. It doesn’t let you use spells, or items. So don’t get petrified, you’ll probably die.
Giants… or Giantesses? They look female to me… well, they’re tougher than treants, and do a lot of damage with their physical attacks.

There’s a glowing pool to the northeast of the savepoint-area in the desert, and I’m not sure why it’s there. Maybe it heals, as I wasn’t damaged when I got there. Or perhaps it’s just meant to look significant, like an oasis in a desert should be.
It’s probably holy. Natural that I find a source of holy water and have no undead to test it on, hm?

For pre-boss puzzles, the Wood of Ruins’ Holy Land/Desert is probably one of my favourites. Singing stones in the desert is a nice mental image.
If I recall correctly, the final level of Fairy spells is hidden here, too. I’m using the wrong class for those, though, and the last time I played a Fairy, I went mostly-melee. Not quite sure how I managed to get this far in the game doing that, really.

Okay, the boss. In a nice piece of attention-to-detail, this is the creature the Warrior, Rogue, Priestess and Sorceress were fighting in the animated intro. The boss is recogniseable only by process of elimination – I.E. it’s not Griffon, it’s not the Dark Elf, it’s not… you get the idea, but the area itself is recogniseable, down to the ‘pillars’ of falling sand from the desert above.

Behemoth’s attacks:

1. It can jump forward to pounce on you for a physical attack. This is similar to other large bosses and their ‘pushing’ attacks – like Griffon’s charge or the Owlbear running at you. Behemoth doesn’t home in on you with this attack, so it’s fairly easy to dodge so long as you aren’t meleeing. He only seems to do this if you’re within the range of one or two of these.
2. Behemoth can also jump up on the spot, and cause a minor earthquake when it lands. The range on this extends just over half a screen from Behemoth, depending on how you have the camera oriented, and you have only a small chance to get out of range from the moment Behemoth lands, before the animation kicks in and you start taking damage. Causes earth damage. The best defence against this one is just to start running when Behemoth jumps.
3. Behemoth loves casting Poison Cloud. Though it’s more powerful than the treants’ version, it’s not something to worry about if you’re fighting at range; if Behemoth is offscreen or mostly-offscreen, you’re too far away for the spell to start tracking, and it’ll just hover above Behemoth’s head. Poison Cloud is Behemoth’s largest-range attack, and it ranges about one full screen. Easy to avoid if you’re prepared and far away from Behemoth, and if it does start tracking you, there’s plenty of space available to keep running to avoid it.
4. Like certain other enemies, Behemoth can also cast Petrify. Again, this is another example of a spell that’s worse for melee characters than ranged, as Petrify is pretty short-range. Not that it’s the most problematic of spells, as it’s a thin straight line that can be sidestepped.
5. Lastly, Behemoth can toss out Earth Javelin; it’s pretty easy to tell when he’s about to cast this one, as it has a much longer casting time than the other spells. This is essentially a remote version of his earthquake attack, as the projectile the spell produces stops, eventually, and causes spikes of earth to shoot up from the ground. Possibly the nastiest of all his attacks, but I never got hit by it; just stay away from the projectile and you’ll be fine.

Behemoth isn’t the most aggressive of bosses out there; it doesn’t seem to have a love for rushing into melee range, and it has no truly long-range attacks that can hit you from anywhere like some bosses possess.
And, blast, it’s a choice between Abandoned Mines and THERE next. Joy. I’ll have to fight him twice, too… hmm. Choices, choices.
Anyway, Behemoth is one of those bosses that’ll be hellish for anyone who needs to melee it to death; it has a lot of health, and many attacks that can really screw up a person’s day and are tough, if not impossible to avoid at short range and warning.
However, playing a Sorceress or other class with magic makes it much easier; the arena is absolutely huge, at least two or three screens across in each direction, and it’s possible to just exhaust your MP with your favourite long-range spell (I recommend Lightning Bolt) with Behemoth offscreen, and then run around the edges of the arena staying safely out of sight until you can cast the spell again. It’ll take a long time without MP-restoring items, as Behemoth still has a lot of health, but as battles go, this is pretty safe.

Winning nets you a jewel; in a nice touch, it’s the same jewel from the introduction, too. I thought those guys already got it, though…?
Hm. Maybe there’s a vending machine, somewhere.

The exit-teleport is back near the desert savepoint…
…uh, assuming you remembered to push the statue out of the circle back at the meadow. I never do. Makes me wish I’d remembered yesterday’s Item of the Day, too, but even without any treasure chests for me in the region, I still managed to pick up more than an inventory of loot.

Loot

Basilisk Scales [Accessory]
Protect against being turned to stone.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Earth Jewel [Object]
Earth Gem.
(Activates Poison Cloud; 25% Dest.)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Material Earth [Object]
Magic crystal earth.
(Earth attr. to weapon)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Material Light [Object]
Magic crystal light.
(Light attr. to weapon)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Recovery Perfume [Object]
Mildly scented perfume
(Slowly restores MP)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Healing Perfume [Object]
Rousing fragrance
(Slowly restores HP)

“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

So, the Wood of Ruins is as cruel to non-Hunters as ever. Despite coming across no treasure chests in the Ruins, Canyon and Holy Land areas, I still managed to get lucky with enemy drops, including something (disappointing) from Behemoth.
Basilisk Scale – handily dropped by Basilisks – either makes you immune to petrification, or just resistant. I’ve never had to use it; getting petrified earlier is the only time I’ve ever been petrified. If I had to go for a status-resistant accessory, I’d choose to prevent something more common, instead.
I could have used those two Recovery Perfumes during the boss fight; they boost magic recovery when used, but I only got them from treants on my way out. Healing Perfume is the equivalent for HP, I’d assume.
Material Light, from a wisp, and Material Earth, from Behemoth – see,
disappointing – let you boost or reduce elements on your weapon. Good for increasing, or reducing, the damage you do
damage, though using opposed-element Materials on the same weapon – Wind in the case of Earth,
and Darkness in the case of Light – will reduce the Earth/Light element
before increasing the Wind/Darkness element. Not really worth messing around with until you have a lot of them, or if you’re having a lot of trouble with a boss, and not that useful for magic-users.
Lastly, the Earth Jewel. It could be useful to another class, I suppose, but I could just cast the spell itself. There are jewels for each element, with a corresponding spell inside, but the only one I find outside of chests following Kraken battles is always the Earth Jewel, containing That Spell I Never Use. They’re just redundant, like elemental Materials, in my case.

Item of the Day

Healing Pin [Object]
Acupuncture needle.
(Restores HP 25% dest.)

Cheap reusable healing. Even as late in the game as the return to the Wood of Ruins, Healing Pins can still be handy despite only healing between 10 and 20 HP a use; thanks to only being consumed 25% of the time, you can get much more than that out of each. Though not good in the face of any other healing item, and really not suited for use in the middle of combat past the first few areas, they’re great to have around if you have nothing else. They’re mostly good for supplementing your natural regeneration.
Since the innkeeper can always supply you with up to two, free of charge, it’s worth taking advantage of the offer. You CAN have more than two at once, as there’s at least one enemy in the game that drops them (Wood of Ruins? Old Palace?), but it’s not common, and not worth grinding for.

Spell of the Day

Lightning Bolt (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 16
Command: ∆ O ∆
Opponents are attacked by lightning.

A very long-range wind-element spell, though erratic; it sometimes veers to the side and refuses to hit enemies at the edge of its range. Lightning Bolt can easily hit enemies standing offscreen, as you probably learned from the Dark Elf boss fight. It pierces through enemies, and sometimes inflicts paralysis in addition to damage.
Lightning Bolt is a member of the trio of third-level 16MP elemental attack spells, alongside Blaze and Blizzard. Of the three, it’s the most damaging in a single hit, but there’s no chance this spell will hit a single enemy multiple times. Even with all of the fourth-level spells unlocked, I still use spells from this group as it casts in a reasonable length of time.

So, about that possible secret…

Four deaths, and… nothing. Maybe dwarves can break this thing, or something.

If anyone knows or can work out what’s up with this place, I’d be happy with an answer. You can’t see it in the screenshots, but it even looks odd when turning the camera.

By the end of the trip, poor Nola had died another five  times; once when I didn’t make the jump off the waterfall, once when I managed to fall off the raft immediately afterwards, and then once again during the Griffon fight; a level 2 Hunter has no chance to even survive unless it’s being played by a real person.
Then she kinda died twice again on my way back to that odd spot, in case it changed following the fight. Nope. Saw her body whilst floating past on the raft out.
Interestingly, the whole fight’s skippable. Immediately after jumping off the raft to steady land again, if you head left you can jump to the exit. You don’t have to face the boss to get to the chest.
Of course, I fought anyway. I still love the music, and Griffon is a good source of experience at low risk, plus there’s always the chance IT will drop a chest.

So, loots.
None of the normal monsters dropped anything this run. None last run, either.
The two minor griffons in the Griffon fight dropped a Feather Pen and a Wind Necklace.
Griffon dropped nothing. Nothing last run, either.
The chest in the area after Griffon contained a Jewel Box. Last run it was a Rope of Return. Nothing spawns in this area, so it’s a safe place to rest, but since the exit is a whole one room away, it seems pointless.

Ah, satisfaction is killing off Griffon with Stone Bullet.

Loot

Wind Necklace [Accessory]
Wearer is protected by the powers of the wind.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”
(Wind+24)

Feather Pen [Object]
Big feather pen.
(Increase magic recovery rate)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Jewel Box [Object]
Holder gains fame.
(? ? ?)

“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Obviously, the Wind Necklace is a good thing to wear if you’re having trouble against Griffons; I think all the damage they do, when not knocking you off ledges, is wind-element. However, wind is not all that common an element outside of the Valley of White Silver.
Save for the Jewel Box, all the Objects are self-explanatory. I don’t know what the Box does, though. I guess that’s the point of it.

Item of the Day

Rope of Return [Object]
Enchanted rope.
(Activates Teleport)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

The Rope of Return takes you out of the area when used; I don’t know if it works during a boss fight, but I’ll probably be trying it when I reach the Volcano. Provided you remember to bring it with you, this is an insanely useful item. The problem is deciding whether it’s worth the slot it takes up, as unlike other consumable items, you’re not likely to fill that slot with something else before heading back to the inn.

Spell of the Day

Stone Bullet (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 6
Command: □ ∆ □
Scores of rocks fly towards the opponent.

A short-range, slow offensive spell that produces multiple projectiles. By the time you have this spell, you should already have the superb Water Bullet, which not only does more damage, it has greater range, costs half the MP of Stone Bullet, and pierces. Stone Bullet’s one advantage is the projectiles circle you once, dealing damage to anything surrounding you, before flying off, making this a good spell to remember when being mobbed.

Valley of White Silver (Again)

So I finally got around to reconfiguring ePSXe to work on the new computer.
Which isn’t much more than selecting the same plug-ins, again, tweaking the controls, and setting the thing to run in a window, after forgetting once. Lots of tweaking. For some reason, I haven’t done my ‘usual’ layout; x for circle, then z, a and s for the buttons in relation to that. Instead, x is X, s is Triangle, a is Circle and z is Square. I think that’s the reverse of the layout on a normal controller – X towards the centre, Circle on the outside, here.
It’s handy, though. Key x (X) is used for the selected default spell, or special skill. It’s also not something I can really deviate from, since all my notes on spell codes and all my practice is based on this odd setting.

So, to celebrate getting ePSXe working without much trouble, I decided to go kill an easy boss with a chance of a decent reward. The Griffon in Valley of White Silver. Its health is comparable to other bosses, but right at the moment it’s doing 12 damage at most per hit. The only annoying thing is the boss Griffon’s charges interrupt spells, where normal griffons don’t when they hit you.
If they don’t poke you off the platform. That always ruins a spell.

Spotted something that might be a secret passageway, but with a mage it isn’t accessible. I’ll generate a hunter and try to keep her alive whilst rushing there, I suppose.

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