Furthest Island &
Let's move Vanguard!
With the bishie harem of Genbu mages assembled and the Orichalcum Dolphin securely in place, it's time to see Vanguard finally move!
Stepping up to the control panel (with cool dolphin carpet), we're able to uh... start the... engine? Mikhail and the mages shout out little technobabble like "Begin synchronization!" and "Power output 50%!"
And then we see the outside of the city... some like rainbow beam things slice through the ground, tearing it apart.
On the northeast corner, water comes spraying up through the crack!
And the tower that was there just... falls off!
And then Vanguard becomes a giant floating island-ship thing! There's a bunch of epic music and stuff, too. It's pretty cool. This is one of the most fun moments in the game, though it's probably something that's only really exciting if you're watching it. And I don't think I'm good at making stuff sound exciting so, oops!
We ask Herman where we're headed, and he says we're going to Furthest Island. I don't know if this is really supposed to be its name or if everyone just refers to it as 'the furthest island,' but basically it's an island near what people believe to be the 'edge' of the world, as far west as you can travel.
Vanguard's spot on the world map has changed, too. That crack near the top of the screen is where it used to be. It now just kinda hangs out over here on the edge. This isn't Furthest Island, though -- this is just where Vanguard is anymore. When you're at Furthest Island, you can't access the world map because you're like... too far away or something.
Also, remember that tower with the door like... way up high? Now it's fallen down to ground level! The door takes you straight into the control room, so you don't have to travel through that entire underground dungeon every time you want to go back and forth.
Since there's no more land bridges leading to Vanguard, to leave, you gotta go talk to the boat guy to leave. Or just press the triangle button to return to the world map.
If Vanguard is "parked" at Furthest Island, boat guy will take you there.
Furthest Island is a pretty cool place. And there are lobster people living here! Actually that's all that's really here, at least on the island. There's a little underground area we can explore, too.
One of the lobbies even tells us where we can find Forneus. He says he's at H+-0L-100. Cool, right? O_o Well, with this knowledge, now we can take Vanguard there. Thankfully, we don't have to remember the actual coordinates -- once we learn the location, we can just select it from a list of places to go when we're in the control room.
We also find a lobster who says he wants to try riding on Vanguard, too. So we let him tag along.
This is Boston, who is going to be an honorary member of our harem party. The main reason I recruited him is because he teaches us the Genbu battle formation, but I'm not going to lie -- I would totally bang this lobster.
This art from Imperial SaGa makes him look a lot sexier than his derpy little sprite.
Anyway, talking to the other lobsters around the little island, we hear that Forneus sent the Water Dragon to the waterfall cave, and it plans to destroy the island. Seems pretty dark.
We can enter a little well or something at the back side of the island, which takes us down into the cave. While we're here, we may as well check it out, I guess! There are a lot of fish down here and we spend a lot of time wading through water. There's this one place where we walk across a ridge behind a huge waterfall that takes up more than one screen's-width of space.
While we're busy fighting fishies, we can try out our new formation! The Genbu formation is really amazing -- the character positions are pretty well-balanced. The form also boosts everyone's defenses, and the entire team gets healed a little bit at the end of every round of combat! The only downside is you take a huge hit to speed, so it's a good formation for turning your entire party into a Tank Party.
Also, one of the Sea Killers (the shark enemies) dropped a Fish Scale. When I fought so many before hoping for one... and now we don't need one anymore...
The cave doesn't seem particularly eventful, though. We reach this dead end after a little while of exploring, not having found any kind of treasures and definitely no dragons.
But, there's a passage behind this waterfall!
Back here, we find more cave to explore. There's a raised platform in the center of the room with a treasure (the treasure chests in here are like little clamshell things, super cute!) but in the water, there is a mollusk enemy that seeks you pretty aggressively once it starts targeting you. Once it ignores you, it just moves around a lot. But its movement speed is very high, so it's likely that it might catch up to you while you're wading around in the water.
Getting into a fight with it initiates a battle with aquatic monsters much higher than your current monster rank, so it can be dangerous. But it can also be a good opportunity for glimmers and levels up.
While we were able to avoid the mollusk, we did run into several fish while trying to get to the back of the cave. But Herman glimmered Flash Arrow, which is a really great Bow art. It hits all enemies like Random Arrow does, but it has much better accuracy, bigger damage output, and the chance to inflict darkness on each enemy it hits. Extremely useful. Plus it's fun to watch all the arrows spray out from the bow.
In the back of this cave, past the mollusk guardian, we find three treasures containing a Fang Amulet, a Spike Shield, and one of those magic scroll things. I don't use the magic scrolls at all (they just cast a magic art when used in battle, but they take up an equipment slot and aren't that powerful it seems).
Spike shield is pretty cool, definitely one of the best shields we've gotten so far. It also lets you use a Shield Rush attack art. The Devil Emperor's Shield that we found in the Dead Man's Well in Moses is by far the best as a shiled alone -- it blocks all types of attacks with a pretty high rate, and reduces the damage to 0. But it makes all of your arts cost twice as much power, which is not worth it at all. 10 WP for Megahawk? 14 WP for Screwdriver?! No way! Oh, and I should also mention that buff and protection spells will miss on the character holding the shield. So no Dancing Leaf or anything (War Cry still works, though.)
The Fang Amulet is nice, too. We already have one or two, but they give a +1 to Strength when equipped, despite only have 3 defense. Ward is wearing one already.
Leaving the back area, it's time to try fighting the mollusk. We're on our way out, so we can really go full force, knowing we'll be able to go back to the inn soon. The four blue octos we fought were pretty tough -- they could take much more than half of a character's HP in a single hit. And there were four of them! We used Whirlwind formation to get the edge of them with speed, and fortunately they're susceptible to both sleep and paralysis, which are the specialities of our party. It was crucial to keep them immobile, since they hit hard and had a lot of HP, but with Trucks, Herman, and Mikhail all able to focus on sleep and paralysis, with our two heaviest hitters using their strongest attacks, we managed to take them down without any deaths.
All the fish that we ran into in here really bumped up our aquatic monster rank. We're now running into Draconians. These are those guys who have that sexy blue design in UNLIMITED:Saga (though the US version calls them "Draconids.") They're good-looking here, too, but in a different way.
The Draconians are a little scary, because they're very fast and can deal a lot of damage and sometimes stun party members, too. (If I haven't explained stun, basically if you're stunned, for the rest of the turn, you have 0 evasion, and you also lose your action for that turn if you haven't acted yet. It's not really a status effect in that it's not permanent, but just kind of a special condition on its own -- most SaGa games have a "Stun" effect like this).
So if you get unlucky with their action choices, you might end up with a knocked out character or two, or go into panic mode. They can be put to sleep and everything, too, though, as most enemies can.
We also are running into that big fish that was the boss of the Frozen Lake subquest where we met Ward. It's just a regular enemy now. The party is much stronger than they were then, though, and it's no threat at all.
With that out of the way, we head back to Vanguard and sleep at the inn. But we never found any sort of dragon in there, so we head back in.
If you remember the long ridge behind the big waterfall, there's actually a hidden passage behind it, too. But you have to find it. It's only a few steps left of the entrance so it's not that hard to find just by taking a step left then up repeatedly until you run into it.
Back here, we find the Water Dragon guarding a chest, and just kind of chilling by the waterfall. It actually looks so tiny, looking at its overworld sprite.
Anyway, this is a completely optional "hidden" boss fight. Other than the two lobsters mentioning it, I don't think there's any other hint this is here and available to find.
The Water Dragon is one of the easier optional bosses. It's easier than the Blue Dragon that we found before in the Black's treasure cache cave, even though you're forced to encounter that first since you need the Orichalcum Dolphin to move Vanguard to get to Furthest Island.
Anyway, it's still very tough, and I wasn't really sure if the party could handle it, but I figured I would at least try.
Like I said, it is tough. He can use Squall, a Genbu art that does about 130 damage to the entire party. Each member of the party has between 300 and 400 HP, so this is... a lot. Herman's water robe makes him completely immune to water-based damage, though, so he at least doesn't take the punishment. But even still, the healing effect from the Genbu formation isn't really enough to make up for taking over 500 damage across the party in a single turn.
The dragon likes to do some other attacks, though. Fortunately its claw and bite attacks are a lot less harmful, though its favorite attacks are the elemental ones. We can get an extra turn of healing in if he uses one of his physical attacks, though.
Oh, and because of the waterfall and the dragon spamming water-based attacks, there's almost always a water elemental field. And that heals the dragon for 999 HP every turn. Every. Single. Turn. (And Herman gets healed, too, thanks to his robe lol, but he only gets like 30 HP).
There are basically two main strategies I try in this battle.
One is to use try to keep the elemental field out of water. The dragon and waterfall both push it back every turn, and the amount of the effect a magic art or the location affects the field each turn is somewhat random. So you have to basically spam other elemental arts to try to keep it from returning to water.
I've done this before in Sara's scenario pretty easily. I had a magic-focused team there, too, and had access to some powerful magic arts and tons of JP. Here, most of my magic arts are kind of useless in this fight, and some characters don't have much JP.
I still tried it, though. Mikhail, Trucks, and Herman all spammed Wind Dart every turn (and Dancing Leaf in the beginning) to try to get the elemental field into wind, or at least out of water. It actually worked pretty well and kept the field out of water for a long time. But then a time came when someone died, I wasted actions on healing, the field moved back to water, and I was busy healing while the dragon regenerated tons of HP every turn...
If I had better magic arts in the party like Tornado, which does a lot of damage and pushes the elemental field with a stronger effect, I might have been able to get away with it. But Wind Dart was doing like... around 100 HP damage at the most, and Tiberius lost access to most of his capabilities since he does water-based arts, so he was just thwacking with the healing stick.
The other strategy is to just try to pound out TONS of damage so you stay ahead of the dragon's healing. This is hard because if you try to heal your party members or do buffs or really do anything other than spam strong offensive arts, the dragon is going to get extra healing in.
Mikhail and Herman have a lot of useful and interesting arts, but not a lot of heavy hitters. Herman's Splitting Dynamic is nice, but it has a really low accuracy, and I don't really focus on his axe arts so his axe level is pretty low. So it's not all that helpful when you have to consistently deal massive damage every turn. Mikhail is well-rounded but doesn't have a single "big hit" weapon art yet.
So that leaves Trucks with Screwdriver -- and the dragon is not considered a woman so it just does decent damage. I think it was doing around 500-600 damage per turn. Then Tiberius with Thunderclap, which did a bit more than Screwdriver. And lastly, Ward dished out Bull Crash with around 1,000 damage per turn. So if all of the attacks landed, we were ahead of the healing. Herman focused on healing most of the time, and Mikhail could get an extra few hundred damage sometimes.
The problem is that Tiberius also had to heal sometimes, sometimes someone would get knocked out, and Bull Crash missed sometimes. Once someone important like Ward or Tiberius got knocked out, it was very hard to "catch back up," and the healing would end up getting way ahead of the damage, completely undoing all the progress we made.
I gave Tiberius the Death Ring, which greatly boosted his magic power, but also made it impossible for him to receive healing arts.
However, there's a bit of a "loophole." Passive healing abilities still seem to work, so he's not 100% a zombie. This means that the between-turn healing boost from Genbu formation still works, and if he uses the Water Ball art on himself (a Genbu art similar to Dancing Leaf that randomly blocks some physical and fire attacks), as long as the elemental field is in water, he'd get healing from that, too, just like Dancing Leaf gets the wind field healing bonus.
So that means Tibby couldn't receive healing from stuff like Moonshine or the healing stick, but he was recovering about 80HP per turn just for standing there.
Casting Water Ball five times to try to affect everyone was a bit too much, since we needed to deal damage as fast as possible, but casting it on just Tiberius was good enough. With the boosted damage from his magic, after a few tries (well, more like seven or so tries lol), I was finally able to take down the dragon!
And only Herman was dead at the end of the fight, so sadly he didn't get any levels up. But this is a really hard boss fight for this point in the game, so I'm pretty happy to have cleared it. My first few times, I was starting to think it was out of my reach for now and I'd have to come back later, but I persevered and triumphed in the end! It was pretty exciting.
You can actually run away from this fight, so some people like to "save" the Water Dragon so they can use it to glimmer abilities. It has a pretty good glimmer rate for earlier in the game, but we already have a lot of good abilities, and grindy things are generally not too fun for me. I prefer seeing if I can beat it early on :)
And since I doubt in any of my playthroughs I'll ignore this fight, I guess I'll "spoil" it here: if you do indeed ignore this battle or aren't able to find the dragon, once you go on to fight Forneus, the dragon will become enraged and destroy the island. So all the poor lobster people die, and you can't go back to Furthest Island. Which means if Boston was there, he's permanently gone (or if you recruit him and later dismiss him or let him die). You also obviously can't get into the cave, so you can't fight the dragon after that point nor get the treasures in the cave.
The treasure in the cave was a Monster Hide. This is a sort of weak armor, but we can take it to the workshop and have them make it into the Beast Leather. The only other way to get Monster Hide is through monster drops, and monster drops are extremely unreliable in this game.
And with that, we'll head back to Vanguard and go back to the rest of the world!