Stella Glow review – What an annoying game (massive spoilers)

Finally finished the wretched game known as Stella Glow. I almost dropped it several times along the way, but the SRPG gameplay kept drawing me back. That’s the problem I have with Imageepoch games. With one or two exceptions they are all technically sound, so you end up playing more than you should even when the story makes you want to bash your brains out against the nearest sharp corner.

I’m so glad to be done with this game. I feel spent. It’s good to finally get it off my mind and off my playlist, but… I wish I’d never played it. It made me so angry. Why can’t I ever be indifferent to Imageepoch games? Why do they always get such a rise out of me? Why did you have to die, Imageepoch???? Who is going to piss me off now? ;_________;

Notes on Stella Glow‘s gameplay

Standard isometric SRPG game with all the standard SRPG features like back attacks giving extra damage and side attacks extra accuracy. No height effects as far as I can tell but some minor terrain differences. Nice compact maps so you don’t cross empty terrain just to reach one enemy. Lots of grinding opportunities but very little need to grind. Generous EXP from enemies + full HP/SP refills on leveling up. It’s a very player-friendly game.

As always with Imageepoch the characters were clearly differentiated. All the witches had highly distinct skillsets, personalities and abilities. Even characters that used the same weapon (like Popo and Keith or Nonoka and Rusty) had different speeds, ranges, skills and passive abilities. There was always a point to using someone in particular versus another character, but no one character was completely useless.

I also liked what they did with orbs giving extra, often random boosts. Stuff like pre-emptive attacks and critical hits and follow up attack that give you an extra turn when you kill an enemy are all very nice bonuses to have. With the right orb setup (e.g. Nonoka + Control Condition + Delay + Sickness orbs) you can make like considerably easier for yourself against tough bosses. But even before that it’s fun to see nice effects going off at random.  It reminded me a lot of the great passive-attack fests in Shining Hearts, Glory of Heracles and Exstetra, but on a much smaller scale.

They copied the ‘Brave’ system from Summon Night games where you get bonuses for achieving certain conditions. Most of these are very doable AND they give great rewards. At the same time missing them didn’t destroy your game completely. Same with the treasure chests dotting the map and the stealable items most bosses had. Apart from the Follow up Orb (which is a must-have IMO) everything is a nice bonus to have but you can still get by just fine with store-bought weapons and items if push comes to shove. It’s a very low-stress high-reward kind of game. At least as far as gameplay is concerned.

La la, the power of friendship will always overcome evil and dumb decisions, la la

Niggling nitpicks: Isometric SRPGs tend to be a bit slow, especially when they’re speed-based. Stella Glow is better than most, but it’s still boring to sit around waiting for your next turn to come. There’s always a little pause as each enemy decides what to do even when they end up doing nothing at all. Animations are also a pain to sit through so I turned them off after two chapters. The game also gets a bit too easy from midgame onwards once Delay, Follow up and Sickness orbs become a thing.

Furthermore, some of the victory/defeat conditions are annoying. A battle you lose if any enemies die? And the enemies have Self-Destruct and aren’t afraid to use it? RRGHHH. Or a battle where you have to protect a character who won’t stay put? Hmm, Sakuyaaaa? You will also be forced to use all characters at some point, which sucks if you benched characters like Archibald and Keith as soon as you got them. Those are the main things that bothered me, but hardly enough for me to quit over. No, what really stuck in my craw was the story.

Why the story pissed me off

Liar, liar, G-string on fire.

I’ve played too many JRPGs, that’s the problem. That’s why I could tell from the start that Hilda was actually trying to save the world instead of destroy it. And that the Anthem Program was a bad idea. And that Klaus was up to no good. BUT STILL! I was forced to sit through a whole load of nonsense and made to do a whole lot of dumb stuff when everything in me was screaming NOOOOO, THIS IS ALL WRONG! Hilda this, Hilda that, Anthem this, Anthem that. When they asked her a question she wouldn’t answer. When she tried to tell them something they wouldn’t listen. And round and round and round.

And back and forth and back and forth for the first 20 hours of the game while I was ripping my hair out, JUST TALK TO ONE ANOTHER, DAMMIT!!! Stupid Alto. It made me miss Arc Rise Fantasia, another flawed gem from the late, great, irritating Imageepoch. I think L’arc from that game is the only JRPG hero in existence who doesn’t automatically believe anything random strangers tell him but instead keeps asking questions. Which means Imepo could have done it right if they wanted to, they just didn’t want to because they hate me so much.

Who or what is Hilda? It’s only halfway through the game that we’re told she used to be the queen of some kingdom or another… why didn’t you ask for such basic information to begin with, Alto? What is she up to, why now and not 1000 years ago, what exactly is this Anthem program, how does it work, how do we know it works, what’s the point of uncrystallizing people if Hilda is only going to crystallize them again, what exactly is this Conductor power and why do I have it, and on and on and on?

Eventually they meet Dr. Veronica who knows like she can provide all kinds of info but they barely ask her any questions and she doesn’t volunteer any answers even when it turns out she could have prevented most of the latter half of the game just by TELLING them a few key facts. Grrr! I wanted a scene where Alto and co. were clearly told the truth and refused to believe it. Or a scene they ask honest questions and receive only lies in return. Nobody asks any questions whatsoever, nobody listens to any answers whatsoever. Then at the end “Aaah, you tricked me!” Of course I did, you’re a moron.

You can’t look like this in a harem RPG. You must die.

And after all the mental torture I went through, I got the “normal” ending instead of the true one. Because I didn’t raise Klaus’ affection high enough. Which I didn’t do because I had him pegged as trouble from very early on. Once he got that suave-looking CG in the cafe I knew he was a goner. A smart, competent, super good-looking guy… in an harem RPG? No man can be a better catch than the hero and live. Either he’s going to die to give everyone a cause to rally around or he’s going to turn evil. Either way there’s no point raising his affinity stat… is what I thought. And got punished for being smart. Damn you, Imageepoch.

Not that I want the best ending anyway. I kind of like the bittersweet nature of the normal end, especially Marie’s death. They shoved her down our throats all game long, trying to make her all cute and sweet and loveable. Blechhhh. Super blechhh. It’s like the second coming of Nanako from Persona 4 except Nanako was genuinely and unobtrusively cute. Marie is just artificial. How many times did she have to faint and pass out before she was satisfied? Good riddance. I was a little sad to see Best Girl Ana bite the big one, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles when you’re too dumb to live.

Every other JRPG has this as a theme. What’s your problem, Japan? Come on, you can tell me.

As for the “mankind needs to no gods” resolution, the less said about it the better. It’s probably faster to count the JRPGs that don’t have that conclusion than the ones that do. Even games like Nayuta no Kiseki that have no gods in them still force the protagonist to compare certain characters to gods just so he can declare his independence from them. When the game started “Long ago, god….” I said stop right there, Stella Glow, I know where this is going. And I was right. What IS it with Japan and God/god/gods? Goddesses are usually okay, the kinder and sexier the better. “Gods” (plural) can go either way. If they’re ancient nature spirits they’re usually okay, especially if you have to seek them out somehow. God/god is a goner from the start. I wonder why.

As a last note on Stella Glow’s abysmal story, it reminded me a lot of Entaku no Seito‘s. They really have a lot in common: the hero failed to beat the boss 100/1000 years ago, he’s been revived/reincarnated, he has to get a new team together, some of his party members are descendants of his old crew, the hero failed last time because his bonds with his team mates were too weak, he has to strengthen his affinity with everyone, his best friend turned traitor and is the last-but-one boss, etc.

I guess it’s not that unusual to have the bad guy merely sealed away in the past so you have to finish him once and for all in the present, but Entaku is the one I played most recently so that’s the first one that came to mind. I thought from the trailers that Stella Glow would be Luminous Arc meets Ar Tonelico, but it was more Luminous Arc + Ar Tonelico + a heavy dash of Entaku no Seito. Three games I enjoyed very much and yet Stella Glow? Not so much.

Conclusion

Very good game, very, very annoying story. If you like SRPGs, Stella Glow is a must-play for you. Apart from the slow pace of battle, the gameplay is great. At 35-40 hours per playthrough it’s a meaty, satisfying experience as well. It doesn’t have nearly as much fanservice as you would expect from a harem RPG (avoid Nonoka’s ending, srsly) and the music is pretty good. I enjoyed all the witches’ songs. Plus bright happy colors! But, and it’s a big but, you need to have a high tolerance for anime cliches and dumb heroes and being forced to do things no gamer in their right mind would do. Go for it if you’re a self-proclaimed masochist like Alto, avoid if you have high blood pressure or would like to keep your sanity.

Nayuta no Kiseki – I love happy endings

You’re welcome, please come again!

Finished after 30 hours. The main game takes 25 hours and then the epilogue/after story can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours depending on whether you want to grind and do side quests or not. The main last boss is around level 34 while the epilogue boss is level 50, but since you can level up by eating food, you don’t have to spend time in the bonus stages if you don’t want to. Come to think of it you could finish the whole game in about 5 hours if you’re willing to eat your way to higher levels instead of exploring stages and fighting enemies. Way to defeat the purpose of the whole game… Good for speed runs and low-level challenges though, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyways, all good things come to an end. I was worried that I might have praised Nayuta no Kiseki too highly last time and jinxed it, but it ended very satisfactorily so I’m very happy. This is probably the lightest, fluffiest, happiest RPG I’ve played since… hmm… probably Shining Ark in February 2015. They have a lot of similarities – idyllic island village, mysterious white-haired amnesiac girl with strange powers, lots of sidequests, lots of food to cook and sidequests to do, likeable characters, a fairly light story and a very happy ending. Needless to say I loved Shining Ark as well.

I would recommend Nayuta no Kiseki to anyone who likes action RPG and/or platform games. If you play it on Beginner it’s a good Baby’s First ARPG and if you like a challenge you can start with Hard mode right away. The main drawbacks that I didn’t mention last time are first the loading times, which are just a tad too long. Secondly it contains very little of the lore and world building Falcom’s Trails games are so well-known for. It has even less than most RPGs I’ve played in the past, very “empty” kind of world.

Thirdly, jumping is a little inaccurate. You’ll often end up a little to the left or right of where you intended to go. On narrow platforms you’ll end up falling off. Falcom’s solution to this was give you an accessory that eliminates damage from falling into pits. You should just fix the problem, Falcom. Well whatever, falling into a pit is much better than falling to a lower level and having to climb up again (which also happens pretty often) so I’ll give them a pass.

What a scary smile. She looks like she’s planning to eat me.

Apart from that, if you’re even slightly interested in trying Nayuta, I’d say go ahead and play it. It’s a lot of fun. Seriously. So much fun. Action RPGs are the best! Thanks to that I’ve gained a renewed interest in Falcom’s ARPGs. And just ARPGs in general. Now I’m really sad I couldn’t play Rune Factory 4. Maybe I should give Zwei!! a second chance. I remember it being very cute and funny, the little I played of it.

There’s one little problem, though: Going from an ARPG to an SRPG (Stella Glow) makes the latter feel extremely slow. I’m used to a pretty hectic pace of battle now. Sitting around waiting for monsters to move now it like rggrhhh… Just let me slash them all! I should have eased myself back into turn-based gameplay with something more active instead, like maybe 7th Dragon III. Too late, I’m already several hours into Stella Glow. Progress update on that next time. Until then, adios!

Nayuta no Kiseki – Coming up for air

Nayuta no Kiseki is an action RPG from Falcom, a developer I have a slightly-love/mostly-hate relationship with. It’s not that they make bad games – quite the opposite, really – but their stuff usually doesn’t sit right with me. Their turn-based RPGs like the Trails series are tiresome, long-winded affairs and just when they get interesting, whoops, end of game, be sure to buy the sequel okay? Meanwhile their action RPGs like Ys and Zwei!! are confusing and hard to play for ARPG newbies like myself.

That’s where the happy medium of Nayuta no Kiseki comes it. Since it is a complete standalone title, I don’t have to worry about some stupid cliffhanger non-ending. No matter how many pointless errands and quests the game forces on me, I know everything will be wrapped up in the end. And on the gameplay front it has a Beginner mode that makes it much harder for Nayuta to die. Not that he hasn’t tried repeatedly but I’ve been able to (barely) avoid a Game Over so far and I’m almost 20 hours in.

I would have posted earlier but I was having way too much fun to stop. Every time I freed up a block of time and thought about blogging, it occurred to me that the time could be much better spent playing Nayuta instead. Heck, I could have completed two or three stages in the time it took me to write all this. In fact I’m going to do something I almost never do and let some other site explain all the gameplay and story and other stuff: Hardcore Gaming’s article on Nayuta no Kiseki.

I haven’t read it myself in case of spoilers, but it looks quite thorough. I should do this more often :-ppp But I won’t. Because I have diarrhea of the fingers and just like to write. Before going back to the game, the main reasons why I’m enjoying this game oh so very much.

  • It’s an action RPG! I’ve played a few and find them a little hard to grasp, but when I get into one, I get into it in a major way. It’s all action and stuff so you run and jump and dodge and slash at this boss and jump on that pillar, it’s sooo much fun. Nothing against turn-based RPGs and SRPGs but there’s nothing quite like the rush you get from beating a tough ARPG boss.
  • It’s easy! I’m getting the same relaxing vibe from this as I did from Phantasy Star Portable. Sometimes you just want to check your brains out and slice and burn your way through a bunch of hapless monsters, no questions asked. Ahhh, bliss.
  • The stages are short and manageable. Most of them can be knocked out in 5-10 minutes, even by a klutz like me. Some stages even reward you for finishing in 3 minutes or less. That makes it very easy to fit the game into a busy weekday schedule. We can all find at least 5 minutes to spare every day.
  • It’s bright and colorful. Bright happy colors and all that. The setting is a sub-tropical island with sun and sea and sand as far as the eye can see. The town feels a bit small, but it’s very warm and cozy at the same time. The game is based on the summer vacation adventures of one Nayuta Herschel, and the laid-back vacation vibe really comes through. At least until the game takes a turn for the darker in chapter 5.
  • It’s not too “talky.” It’s mostly gameplay broken up by short skits and conversations, nothing too annoying. Not like some of the other games, especially Ao no Kiseki where everyone turned into a pontificating gasbag. Blech.
  • It’s a complete experience. As I said before, I don’t have to worry about any “To be continueds” or dangling plot threads once it’s over. At least I hope it won’t.

But it’s not a perfect game. In the name of fairness I will halfheartedly list a few of the things that bug me.

  • Some of the dungeon gimmicks are annoying. I’m looking at you, little green circles floating in the air!
  • I don’t really like platform games.
  • It’s maybe a little too easy? My fault for picking Beginner mode, which was fine at first but now that Nayuta & Noi have so many skills at their disposal I wish I’d chosen Normal.
  • A lot of time could have been saved if mascot character Noi had just told us everything she knew from the start. She’s always doing that “I know something I won’t tell, I won’t tell, I won’t tell” act I hate so much in videogames and anime. Even now she’s still holding out on me. But she’s super useful in battle so she’s partly forgiven.
  • The worlds feel kind of empty. Nayuta’s island only has a few people living on it and the alternate world is almost devoid of sentient life. Too many characters would be bad but I think a few more inhabitants on the other side would have made things more interesting.
  • It’s not long enough! After 20 hours I sense I’m approaching the final stages and I haven’t done nearly enough fighting and exploring yet! More! More!

Enough! Time’s a-wastin’. God willing I’ll be back in two or three days with a boastful report on how I creamed the final boss and he wasn’t a match for me, ho ho ho, bring on the big guns, etc etc. Or I’ll come and grumble about how it was too hard, this sucks, I quit, blah blah blah. Win, lose or draw, it should be over in a few more game-hours. After that I have both Stella Glow and 7th Dragon III locked and ready to go. Which one first? *tosses coin* 7th Dragon wins? Boo, that can’t be right. I’ll just flip the coin until Stella Glow wins… there we go. Stella Glow it is!

Why I’m not enjoying Summon Night 5

I’m not just “not enjoying” Summon Night 5, I’ve put it on hold. Not dropped it, just shelved for a bit while I try to sort out my feelings. I haven’t played that much more Summon Night 5 since my last post on it, just about three or four more chapters? I’m at Chapter 6 or 7 or wherever it is that Ruelly turns into a bunny girl for no good reason. I wouldn’t even have made it that far if Stella Glow hadn’t reminded me how much I love SRPGs. And then I went back to SN5 and it reminded me anew how much I don’t like SN5. Why not? Well I gave it some thought and came up with two possible reasons.

Reason one: It’s not the Summon Night I’m used to

I’ve played the first four games in the Summon Night series and they all share a common aesthetic and the same basic gameplay. If you go back and read my posts about them, they’re actually fairly critical. Those games aren’t paragons of virtue or anything close to masterpieces, but they’re fun and very playable. And over the course of playing them I’ve come to expect Summon Night games to look and feel a certain way. Using a larger number of units, using various summon units, weapons, equipment, shopping, discovering new summons, and on and on. So when you take an unrelated SRPG, put some summons into it and call it Summon Night out of nowhere, it’s like rghh nnnrgghh nooOOO. Worse than that, it’s downright creepy. It’s like some shambling monster slit Summon Night’s throat and is wearing its skin with a sinister grin. Who are you and what have you done with my Summon Night?!!!

Reason two: I don’t like Arca

Do I have a choice in the matter, Arca?

She’s too much of a bright-eyed know-it-all. Oh so clever, oh so popular, oh so earnest, oh so pretty, everybody likes her and the ones that don’t are flat out wrong and are going to learn to like her pronto. You hear that, Souken and Yeng hua? And of course she’s a starry-eyed idealist and her view is the right view and everyone else is wrong blah blah.

Again back to the shared features of Summon Night games, they usually have a well-meaning, rather clueless protagonist who learns a lot and develops a worldview and philosophy over the course of the game. Sometimes it’s an unconvincing philosophy (SN3), sometimes it’s downright regressive (SN4) and sometimes it’s the usual “I want to protect my friends” stuff every JRPG does. But even if you don’t agree with it, it’s still something you both came up with – you the gamer and the protagonist whose hands you held throughout the game. That makes it a lot easier to accept than Arca’s wholesale prefab do-gooder attitude. Just thinking of how hard I had to work to get my student and the guardians to accept me in SN3 makes me shake my head at Arca’s legions of adoring fans and buddies.

You could look on the bright side and see it as a fresh spin on the usual affair. And one can always hope that something would shake Arca free of her “Helping others is always the right thing to do regardless of the situation or your stated duty” belief. That would be nice. Really nice. Especially if someone gets killed because she was off being a Girl Scout somewhere. Doubly-especially if that someone is Arca and the game ends right there.

Any hope?

The gameplay thing is flexible. I’ve played and enjoyed SN spin-offs like Tears Crown and Swordcraft Story, so it’s not a complete dealbreaker. Realistically speaking, Flight-Plan is gone and never coming back so we have to make the most of what we have left. …Or not. I could just walk away and not look back. I’m leaning in that direction right now. I already started something new on the PSP (Nayuta no Kiseki, loving it the way I never thought I could love a Falcom game) and the SRPG hole in my heart will be filled by Stella Glow this weekend. But! As I’ve said before, it’s “complicated” between me and Summon Night games so don’t be surprised if I post a completion report someday soon.

“Finished” Granblue Fantasy at level 103 + a few tips

I’m probably not cut out to play one game forever, especially not one as time-consuming as Granblue Fantasy, so I’ve been looking for a good end point for the past twenty levels or so. I heard someone refer to level 101+ as Granblue’s “endgame” and it clicked. Endgame… end game… end the game! I’m a genius!

The other reason I dropped the game is because reaching HL undoes all the progress you’ve done until that point. Not really, of course, but it feels like it because you’re so strong compared to other players circa level 99, then you reach 101 and jump into HL battles and WHOA, I cannot compete at all. Forget 120k contribution, I can’t even hit 60! That’s what you get with incomplete weapon pools but it’s still a bit of a shock to the system. It’s like going from your final year of junior high to your first year of high school. From the top of the totem pole to the bottom of the food chain in one night. Gyaaah!

Out of idle curiosity I looked up what I would need to start being competitive again. Let’s see, I’d have to fully uncap all my Tiamat Bolt Omegas…

Wind Centrums are a guaranteed drop from Tiamat HL, but that’s still 15 x 7 battles to uncap the whole pool = 105 battles. More troublesome were the wind urns, a rare random drop from 6-man battles. How many battles would it take to get them all? And then the gun stones. With only 500k chips to my name it will be a loooong casino grind to get the 77 million needed for Jewel Modele. And the quartz, I only have about 20 spare Tiamat summons and no money to reduce them with. Nope, nope, nope.

What about Tier IV classes? I had a Murakumo replica in my storage, how hard would it be to get a class weapon?

The plan falls apart at the very first stage. Co op? You want ME to do co op? And not just once but possibly hundreds of times for the first stage alone? In fact, you are not serious. End of conversation.

Well I wasn’t planning to continue after HL anyway so these extra grind requirements were just the final nails in the coffin. And so with that lengthy introduction, welcome to what is most likely my final post on Granblue Fantasy. It’s nothing exciting, just a record of my final parties and weapon pools in all elements, plus the result of my final Legfest rolls and maybe a few tips at the end. If you’re interested you can compare this last status report with my earlier ones:
Levels 0-13
Level 40
Level 50
Level 80
Level 90
Might be helpful if you’re thinking of starting Grindblue and want to know how far you can get in 7 months as a fairly casual player. Now on to our story.

My blastin’ Wind weapon pool, or How I Settled on a Main pool

I thought I would go Dark when I first started out, but after pulling Vaseraga in my first legfest I didn’t get another Dark SSR until December 2016. Also being a Dark/Light player means you really have to cap renown every week if you want to progress and I hate doing my daily raids. I can count on two hands the number of weeks I’ve capped renown since I started, it’s that bad. That was the end of that.

So then I thought I would go Water because I had Silva and later got Lilele, but I couldn’t MVP Leviathan Omega for the life of me. Plus he just wouldn’t give me any daggers in the single red box I got from hosting. It was around level 90 before I saw my first Leviathan Omega dagger, true story. First tip: don’t waste your gold anima on omegas you can’t MVP. You’ll regret it later, especially now that the casino doesn’t dish out anima like candy any more.

After that I flitted here and there trying this pool and that depending on what the game dropped or what legfest blessed me with. It was only in the upper 70s when I won Super Bingo that I realized I had a pretty good Wind team in Feena, Metera and Sutera + a Wind Carbuncle. I added Anat, started stalking Tiamat and the rest is history:

An improvement from level 90 but it still needs work. Those last two bolts need to be MLB’d, for starters. A Cosmos gun is not going to happen because I hate camping for Grand Order so I’m supposed to MLB a Wind Unknown to fill its place instead. Not going to happen either. What I might do one day (actually I’m lying, I won’t do it) is upgrade that Bahamat dagger to benefit my Erune-heavy party. Speaking of which, here are my beautiful Wind ladies:

From left to right: Feena, Metera and Sutera. Oh wait, their names are right there in the picture. Unless otherwise stated my backline always consists of Yuel and Amira because I’m trying to get them to level 100. When that’s done I’ll probably stick Helnar and Summer Jin back there. I was building Seofon/Siete to be my main Wind attacker, but once I decided to quit the grind seemed kinda pointless. Besides, these three girls have been together since June. It would be a shame to break up a beautiful female friendship because of a guy.

My rockin’ Earth weapon pool

Very powerful team in short fights where Nemone’s fragility and my lack of healing don’t become issues. They had a field day last Unite and Fight, for starters. Here’s the pool:

3 out of 6 Yggdrasil Swords MLB’d and plans are far advanced to replace the Titan broadsword with a GW dagger. By that I mean I won’t actually do it but it’s nice to talk about it. And here’s my party, unchanged from last time.

The nice thing about having a Human + Erune + Harvin team is I can take full advantage of Tezcapolica summons for a huge attack boost. Beating Leviathan Omega before he unleashes his overdrive is as easy as twisting a baby’s arm now. I don’t even know what Perilous Tidefall looks like any more :-p.

My splashin’ Water weapon pool

All that Levi bashing has given me a nice starter Water pool that lets me whittle Colossus Omega down to 50% HP within two ougis.

I have a lot of good water SSRs, but the real star is Yngwie. The man tanks Dimensional Cleave like it was nothing and says “Please sir, may I have some more?” On a good day he can even tank two in a row without healing. I think his synergy with the Cosmos Dagger DEF has a lot to do with it. Either way, you go Yngwie, you da (creepy old) man!

Lancelot and Romeo are very recent additions I haven’t had the time/money/anima to level up yet. In the future I might go with a team of Silva, Lilele & Yngwie for short battles that need Yngwie’s tanking skills and Lancelot, Romeo & Lilele for everything else. Not that there’s any future for me and Grindblue, but you know what I mean.

My sizzlin’ Fire weapon pool

Or more like fizzlin’, since it’s my personal favorite but also my weakest next to Dark. I’m sorry to report that it has now become a boring cookie-cutter team just like every other fire pool in the Granblue universe. It takes away a lot of the excitement of building your own pool when it’s just going to look the same as yours and his and hers and everyone else’s in between, all 12 million Granblue Fantasy players aiming for the same results. Imagine if all 100 million starving artists in the world were trying to paint the exact same picture, how boring would that be? Maybe that’s how MMORPGs work and I’m only surprised because this is my first one. It’s normal in an offline RPG for there to be only one or two ultimate weapons per game per class, but in a potentially limitless MMORPG? Boooring. But I digress. I always digress. Sumimasen.

The Unknown axes aren’t FLB’d because my grind fu failed me at a critical moment. I just couldn’t bring myself to fight more more battle. Now that damascus ingots are a thing, that might be something to consider…nah. Can’t be bothered.

I also have Agielba but his damage output isn’t high enough to justify giving up Anna and her sweet Charm and Dark attacks. Anna 5* when? Yuel in the middle was kinda useless until she got fire echoes at level 95. She’s still useless though. And her voice is annoying. Zahlhamelina would be mai waifu if I bothered having waifus outside romantic games.

My gloomy Dark Pool

*sigh* Where did I go wrong, Dark? I liked you so much at first. I still like you a lot even now. But… but… just look at this.

I don’t even have enough dark SRs or SRs to fill the pool, haha, ha, haa… But you can look on the bright side and call it a real fixer-upper, in real estate parlance. I have a level 100 GW Harp almost ready for element-changing so that would be a start. But really I’ve just given up on dark. It is enough.

My favorite party to look at, aesthetically-speaking. I find a soothing harmony in the combination of stoic Vaseraga, dark troubled Danua and flashy Yuri. It’s almost enough to make me forget that this lineup hasn’t changed at all since I started the game, haa… I pulled Lady Grey in the most recent Legfest but I don’t really want to use her. Like, “What do you want here?” Why here, why now? Why not 20 levels ago? *sigh*

My brilliant Light Pool

Not much to say about this one. It would be in better shape if fighting Luminiera wasn’t such a chore. Then again maybe not, knowing the drop rates in this game.

It used to be even better back when I used my awakened GW dagger as a main hand. Combined with Amira’s Bal-Sagoth it helped me keep spitting out double and triple attacks like water, which kept the ougis constantly flowing. Have you ever seen Juliet ougi? With ATK boosts from Lucifer and Light carbuncle and a Light Res Down on the enemy? It’s a sight to make grown men weep.

My surprisingly-powerful-despite-a-mediocre-pool light party. I also have Sarunan and SSR Rosamia waiting in the wings, probably forever. I used to sub SR Katalina in for Celeste Omega battles, but now I use my Wind team + Katalina + two Onyx carbuncles for that so the Light team doesn’t see much use.

My Final Legend Fest pulls

That’s it for the pools. Now for the results of my final Legfest draws. I saved up 18,000 crystals in November and December and scrounged up another 6000 from game gifts and events. I was hoping to pull either Korwa, Birdman or Mahira for characters and Tezcapolica or Shiva for summons. Heh, I should be so lucky. I’ll just post the draws where I got something remotely useful.

That’s Lucifer, Rosamia and Lady Grey, if the images are too small to see. I also got Romeo and two Onyx Carbuncles from single pulls and the useless Setekh wind summon from a New Year’s Special ticket. Not a very impressive haul tbh. If I’d known this would happen I would have saved up for a spark instead. That’s still an option. I could just log in and do events for the crystals until I have 90,000. But, hmm, it’s kind of meaningless getting a good character or a summon for a game you don’t intend to pursue any further. That’s that, then.

My Granblue Fantasy tips, or Stuff That Worked for Me but might not Work for You

It’s hard to make any irreparable errors in Grindblue Farmtasy. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t many things that can make your life way easier. Here are a few things I wish I’d known or done back when I started out.

-If you’re a casual free-to-play player like me, Wind is the best element. When you’re Wind, you can get three guaranteed SSR characters just by grinding (Christine, Seofon and Niyon – the latter two are some of the best SSRs in the game), you’ll get up four Wind carbuncles pretty easily, you’ll get a great summon from the casino, you don’t need to take part in Guild Wars/Unite and Fight and you don’t need any summon friends. Heck I unfriended everyone and turned off the “Receive Friend Requests” option 20 levels ago and haven’t missed it one bit. It’ll be a cold, cold day in Granblue Hell before you’ll ever find the Wind summons list without three or four MLB Anats on it. And that’s not even getting into the lovely numbers you can put out with a “Hurt me more!” Tiamat Bolt Omega grid. If you’re in doubt which element to pick, just go Wind and never look back.

-Get a Weapon Stash when you start and stick every weapon with a Skill in it. If you fight a monster and it says “Rare Monster” and it drops a weapon, HANG ON TO THAT BABY FOR DEAR LIFE! You’ll thank me later when you decide to get one of the Unite and Fight/GW characters.

-When I started out I had no idea what weapon skills were so I wasted countless skilled Rs, SRs and SSRs on leveling up weapons. I would see that little skill up percentage sign and just assume it was cumulative. 5%? Oh okay, so next time I can add some more percentage points and eventually it will get to 100% right? >________< So sub-tip, learn what weapon skills are ASAP and don’t carelessly fuse away any weapon with a skill.

-Also hang on to all SR and SSR weapons you get from gacha, events and enemies. They’ll come in handy much later when you have your element pool ready for skilling up. You’ll also need the weapon stones from gacha weapons for MLB’ing and FLB’ing omega wepaons. Oh, and get a Summon Stash and stick all spare SR and above summons inside. You’ll need so many elemental quartz when you reach HL that you’ll regret every Hellhound and Elderwyrm that you fused away with a dismissive “Pah!”

-That “Favorite” option isn’t just there for decoration, use it! Especially on anything you plan to use soon but not just yet. Otherwise it will be you fusing away your second Garnet Carbuncle without thinking. Or getting a Yggdrasil Sword drop and using it to uncap another, little knowing the drop actually went into your drop box and the one you just fused away was a SL. 5 one you were going to put in your party, etc etc. You should definitely Favorite one-time only weapons like the Suzaku katana and Xuanwu mace and any good unknowns. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

-Be in a crew / guild if at all possible. You don’t have to join an existing one, you can start your own. I was guild-free from level 1-50, in a fairly powerful guild from 50-80 and in my own one-man crew from 80-103. I’d rank them Existing Crew > One-man Crew >>>>>> No Crew.

The only real reason to go one-man is if you’re super-casual, super anti-social or you have the cash to burn and don’t want to deal with other people. Just being able to set and change strike times anyhow you want is worth the price of admission.

For everyone else there are so many thousands of guilds out there you’re bound to find one that fits your timezone and play style. Then you can get advice from older players, tackle co-op and tough raids together, chat and commiserate with each other over shoddy legfest pools and so on and so forth. It’s well worth the effort.

-Unless you plan to quit after level 101, you really should do your Co-op dailies. Yes, co-op sucks. Getting into a room in the first place is an exercise in frustration. Even if you do they probably won’t be doing the quests you need. And the leader might close the room after just a quest or two. Or the other players might kill the enemy before you can even get a hit in. And good luck getting the item you need to drop even if you’re in the right quest. Etc. etc.

But still, you should do them if you can. Those blue crystals are just too valuable, and the scales and animas and other rewards are pretty nice too. The solution here is, find a good crew and form a regular co-op posse or get some like-minded fellow players together and do the same.

-Get your info from a regularly updated source. I liked to lurk the GBF Reddit for the latest info and answers to questions. There are a lot of forums and articles about Granblue Fantasy out there but the game changes so often that a lot of it is old intel. E.g. you’ll still see references to “starred Angel halo” even though that hasn’t been a thing for a few months now. Or recommendations of tweetdeck when everybody uses the Granblue Raid Finder these days. Again a good guild can be invaluable for this. If you have any questions about how I in particular did something or why I chose to do X rather than Y you can ask in the comments, otherwise just direct all your questions to Reddit or your crew for speedy, accurate answers.

-Use Journey drops for better drops and faster leveling. I ignored them for a while but it’s pretty painless to have those buffs going in the background while you play. Any little boost helps with the poor drop rates.

-Use your full elixirs, and soul balms too. That’s what they’re there for. Use them especially if you just need a last push to finish off a boss and double-especially if there are crystals or blue crystals at stake. Hoarding virtual game items is pointless, says the gamer who still has 145 full elixirs to her name. By the time I realized I was hoarding in vain I was already too strong to need them. Kind of a waste, so don’t end up like me

-Don’t bother grinding up more than a copy or two of the rotating summons like Ifrit, Cocytus and Diablo. You’re just going to replace them with MLB Omega summons before too long.

-Don’t bother uncapping characters you won’t use immediately. You’ll want all that money and those materials and merits back later on. This especially applies to mediocre units like all the story characters except Katalina.

-You really should try and cap renown every week. Do as I say and not as I do.

Final impressions of Granblue Fantasy after eight months of playing

I made my first post on May 17th 2016, so today makes it a little over 8 months since I started. It’s been fun. Really. I may complain about the grind here and there but that’s just Kina-talk, signifying nothing. My favorite part of the experience was definitely getting stronger every week and being able to tackle content I couldn’t even dream of before. I’m a solo player at heart so while it’s nice to have other raiders pile in and help, I was happiest when I could solo the hardest enemies in events and showdowns.

Apart from that I also enjoyed tweaking my weapon pools, adding stuff and throwing things out with the changing seasons. All the more reason why I got a little bored once I moved out of the midgame and all my pools became more or less fixed. Legfest was fun for the same reason because despite my complaining I did pretty well on the SSR front. It was fun testing my new hires and seeing how best to fit them into my party or even rebuild the whole party around them if necessary. I already mentioned Yngwie giving my Water team a new lease on life. Nemone did the same for my Earth team, and what can I say about Juliet “Gorilla” Capulet? Wow-wee!

The game story is rather boring and the world is vague but the Granblue Channel comic strips were really funny and cute. I learned a lot more about the characters that way than from the game itself. That’s why I’m not too interested in the upcoming anime. Unless I hear it’s super-duper good I probably won’t watch it. The soundtrack is great, I’ll especially miss that music that plays when you finish a regular battle. And I super-liked the way there’s always something to do in the game and half-elixirs are so plentiful you never have to wait for your life to refill. You can play as much or as little as you want every day.

And so on and so forth. I found plenty to like about Granblue Fantasy. I’m glad I played it, now it’s time to move on. But first/last I should thank a few people: Davzz and teasel for telling me about the game, teasel again for letting me mooch off his excellent guild for so long without complaining and all the fine members of (You) for putting up with me, Spoopy for patiently listening to me whine and gloat in turn for so long and finally all my kind and loyal readers for not abandoning this blog even though this game ate up a lot of time I could have spent on a wider variety of games last year. Thank you everyone for reading this far and good night!