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.

Blaze & Blade (2): Boss Musings

…huh.
You know, I distinctly remember the Griffon/Gryphon/creature-of-so-many-spellings – the boss of the Valley of White Silver – being tougher. As a Sorceress, the only problem I had was in keeping out of the centre of its wind-buffeting attack – which deals multiple hits. The whole fight took only… two Healing Potions, and both free Healing Pins. I’m around level 70-80~, and fought the whole thing with Blaze, though a decent amount of time was spent running in circles to let my MP recharge.
Still love the music, though.

I know I’m some way away from level 100, still, but I’m thinking about how to take on the Kraken – bossing around the lizard men and wyverns at the Ruins in the Lake – at this point, or at least when I can survive more than two hits and have a full stock of healing items. Blaze doesn’t work all the time as it’s subject to gravity, and the head, unlike tentacles, seems to have a habit of moving randomly out of reach after the spell’s cast.
Plus the range isn’t brilliant, leaving me a sitting duck for splashes of water, and the dreaded Blizzard spell, when casting. Lightning Bolt will probably be the spell of choice for my next attempt – unlike Blaze and Blizzard, it only affects a more-or-less straight line, and the slightly-random nature of the spell that occasionally has it curving around enemies I want to hit (…maybe, could just be poor aim) makes it less than ideal, but the range of the spell is unbeaten as yet, and it’s piercing. If push comes to shove, I could maybe sit behind the spell-tablet-rock and throw lightning at it until it cries.

…also, on the subject of items, Blood Extract is annoyingly described. I always read the description as filling HP back up to maximum.
Not so! It increases the maximum HP of the character using it. Which is brilliant, but if you’re counting on it for healing in a boss fight, you may end up in trouble.