July 23rd, 2006


The Battle of Grog Hill

Fools Mock

Some people who have known us for a while might have heard one of us say something along the lines of, "Ha ha! They're so dumb!" or "Ha ha! We're so cool, and you're so lame!" and then, almost immediately afterward say something like, "No, no! I didn't mean it!" in varying degrees of panic. This is because of a lesson we learned while playing Final Fantasy Tactics, that we obviously have to keep reminding ourselves, lest we forget. And we definitely still need some improvement.

Anyone who is familiar with Athena's video gaming strategy would know that she actively avoids leveling up (or she did, until FFX-2 came along and ruined everything). This is partly out of impatience and laziness, and partly due to a grudge from elementary school. Back when The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was new, Mom loved to play it, and we loved to watch. Or we did, until Mom discovered that it was a lot easier to make it through the dungeons if she leveled up. So she would spend hours and hours just leveling up, and it was one of the most boring things to watch ever. So Athena did her best to beat the dungeons at the lowest level possible, and eventually made it to a point where she could beat the first boss without leveling up once.

So, until X-2 came along, leveling up only happened when absolutely necessary because of having failed to defeat a boss for the thirty millionth time, or because of being pulled into random battles against her will. (After X-2, it happens as a side effect of side-questing. Blah.)

Not leveling up, while generally making it slightly more difficult, doesn't really affect your ability to get through most games, but Final Fantasy Tactics is one game where it really puts you at a disadvantage. Athena says she begs to differ, and it is her opinion that even if she was at the recommended level for fighting Wiegraf, it would have been really, really hard. It's much more fun to strategize anyway, she says. I agree on that point, and not leveling up really means you have to get creative with some battles.

At any rate, there had been a series of very long, hard, arduous battles, and then there was Grog Hill. We were actually rather frightened as Athena made her way to Grog Hill. And then there was a scene, and we realized that Athena's opponents were all squires. This was a relief, because squire is the lowest rank in the game. And then, to our further relief, the first squire attacked, and it was revealed that he was using an axe.

By way of explanation, in Final Fantasy Tactics, when you're buying weapons, you can choose the option of just equipping all your soldiers with the best equipment in the shop. Most times, the shopkeeper will try to equip squires, geomancers, etc. axes, and they'll try to give all your female characters purses and handbags. At first, this seems like a very good idea, because often axes, purses, and handbags have the highest strength stats.

But then you go to battle and put these weapons into practice. FFT has a really nice feature in that it will tell you how much damage your character's attack will do, and when you use an axe, it gives a very favorable number. But then you learn that axes (and purses and handbags) have a nasty habit of taking away half, or even a third, of that amount. So Athena quickly learned to not let shopkeepers equip her soldiers with axes and the like.

And so, when the squire attacked Athena with an axe, she said, "Ha ha! You have an axe!" in that condescending voice that says, "You're such a loser."

But the other thing to remember about axes is that, while they would do minimal damage when you're (or at least Athena is) using them, they can also have a habit of doing double or even triple normal damage. Needless to say, that was how the axes performed when these squires were fighting Athena's party. She was totally destroyed.

And thus we really felt the truth of the scripture that says, "Fools mock, but they shall mourn." Sure it was just a video game, but better to learn these things from a video game, where the actual damage is practically nothing (aside from having to fight the battle again, quite probably more than once) (and then if you haven't saved it in a while...), before something happens in real life.

Today I'm thankful for parables, getting to church on time, people who know the right thing to say, Japanese gardens in town that we really should see about checking out, and saltine crackers.