Final Fantasy I - All Blackbelts (aka “All you do is drink and fight.”)

This guide assumes that you are familiar with the main quest points and where
to find things. Ideally, you have already beaten the game using a more
traditional mixed-strategy party. I will reference specifics only when the
sequence is important.

Playing with 4 Black Belts is surprisingly fast, with minimal grinding. They
are absurdly powerful when you let them do their thing (Fight naked!). If you
are used to playing with Magic Users or Fighters that need fancy pants weapons,
you may think that this will be challenging. I was able to beat Chaos at level
26, with only one death in the fight, and able to beat WarMech (2 deaths) and
then Tiamat.

PARTY FORMATION
Choose 4 black belts.
(Optional: Name them all the same name)

A couple notes about this particular arrangement that won’t be immediately
obvious:
Your party members are going to die often. It doesn’t matter. Let go of any
 meticulous tendencies you have towards keeping everyone at the same XP total
and just embrace the chaos.
Since all four character are identical, party order REALLY doesn’t matter,
though I tend to let characters remain at the bottom if they’ve died or have
been poisoned / petrified, just to shame them.
You will have an OBSCENE amount of gold. BlackBelts work best when they are
 completely unencumbered by weapons and armor.
Try to avoid doing “cute” things like using fancy magic items (Mage Staff,
Light Axe, etc) except when it makes sense to do so (Mage Staff vs. Undead /
Ice / Weak enemies is good, using it otherwise is less effective)

==============================================================
PROLOGUE: The Inner Sea Region (Cornelia, Pravoka, Elfland)
==============================================================

>>> Garland / Temple of Fiends first run

Equipment to purchase:
 * 1 Wooden Nunchakus for each character
 * 1 Wooden Armor for each character
 * 1 Tent
 * 1 Pure
 * As many heals as you can afford (2 or 3)

Start by grinding levels. You’ll want to get to about level 4 before
attempting
 Garland. The party is going to be pretty pathetic at the beginning, and will
 likely miss a lot, and do very little damage when they hit. For now, focus on
 fighting in the main forest area around town and slowly work your way up to
the Temple of Fiends as you are comfortable.

In between battles, if you have 2 characters that need healing, use a Tent
first, then use Heals as necessary. If a character dies, walk back to town,
revive him, heal at the Inn, then go back to grinding.

Before attempting to fight Garland, do some fights in the entry-way of the
Temple. Creeps are good XP, though they can hit pretty hard.

BOSS: Garland
HP:        106
Strategy: Fight, Fight, Fight...
(I was able to beat him at level 4)

Following this, buy a Tent, a couple Pures, and as many Heals as possible and
head across the bridge.

>>> Pravoka

March right into town, rest at the Inn, and then buy 4 Caps at the Armor store.
 Then kick some pirate butt. Seriously. They really shouldn’t pose any problem
(6 HP each? Please). Bikke will sadly hand over the keys (?) to his boat. For
now, though, stay on land.

Time for some grinding. This will take a little while. You’ll probably want to
 grind up to at least level 8 here. When you get to level 6, experiment with
de-quipping your Wooden Nunchaku and just have your party attack bare-fisted.
Theywill deal less damage per hit, but will do more hits (the equipped weapon
limits the number of hits possible, apparently), so they will do more damage
overall. I’ve also found that they will get Critical Hits more often when
fighting barefisted.

If you can afford it, buy a Copper Bracelet (1000g ea.) for each - the absorb
 rating is comparable to Wooden Armor (which it replaces) but your Evade%
 increases, which is good news.

The Pravoka region is still preferable for grinding, at this point. When you
can walk to that large mountain east of the town, walk all the way to the
peninsula at the top (BE CAREFUL OF REALLY NASTY DUDES AT THE TIP OF THE
PENINSULA), and then all the way south to the marshes and river, you might be
ready to move on to Elfland. (For me, this was level 8 or 9)

Also - you’ll be accumulating a lot of cash -- start stocking up on Heals,
Pures, and Cabins.

>>> Elfland, Astos, Wizards

By this point, your party should be using no weapons, only fist-fighting. You
 should also have no armor, only Copper Bracelets.

The Marsh Cave is doable, just be sure to bring many Pure potions since there
are so many creatures that Poison. Run frequently, mostly because your party
lacks the crowd-control magic to handle undead and poisoning monsters at this
 point.

BOSS: Wizard(s) (x1-3)
HP:   84 each
(I beat them at level 8)

Crown in hand, head up to the Northwest castle (go to Elfland first if there
are any casualties), and heal to full, then prepare to fight Astos. You should
be level 9 here.

BOSS: Astos
HP:        168

This battle can be a bloodbath. He will more than likely RUB one of your
 characters in round 2 or 3. Just accept this. At level 8 or 9, your characters
 will be doling out a fair amount of damage with multiple hits. If they land a
 normal hit, it will probably only do single-digit damage, but they should be
 getting repeated criticals, for 20-40 damage each.  If Astos casts FIR2 or
LIT2, it can just obliterate your party (the second one most certainly) --
don’t bother healing your characters, just Fight, Fight, Fight until he’s
dead,
then head back to Elfland and sell off any weapons you’ve accumulated. Be sure
to buy several Soft potions, since you can’t get them in Melmond.

To finish off this part of the game, you need to trade the Crystal (from Astos)
 for the Herb (from Matoya -- check one of the maps if you forget where this is
-- it’s north of Cornelia), then take the Herb to the Elfland Prince and get
the Mystic Key. Go back to the Northwest Castle and open the doors to get some
loot to sell, then go to Castle Cornelia and get the TNT. Take the TNT to the
Dwarves and blow open the isthmus, and you’re out!

====================================================
PART I: Earth Orb
====================================================

>>> Ruby

Before heading to Melmond, stop by Cornelia and re-supply your inventory of
Heals (buy up to 99 if you can) and Pures (as many as possible). Afterwards,
head over to Melmond.

Just as a benchmark, at this point you should be able to kill an Ogre with
maybe one attack, definitely two if you hit low. GrOgres should be
consistently killable with two attacks.

All four BlackBelts should have Copper Bracelets. Caps & Gloves optional. No
 equipped weapons.

Head into the Earth Cave (far southeast peninsula) and fight your way through
the floors until you get to the Vampire. You should be able to make quick work
of him. The “Earth” monsters should take about 4-6 attacks to kill, on
average
If any of your characters die on the way in, be sure to re-load and try again.
With enough Heals, this leg is pretty easy.

BOSS: Vampire
HP:        156
(I beat him at level 10/11)

>>> Rod

With the Ruby from the Vampire, head over to the Sarda’s Cave (to the west)
and feed that hulking Rockbiter the Ruby. Obtain the Rod from Sarda, and then
head back to your ship and re-stock on Heals, Pures, and buy a few Softs,
Cabins, and maybe even a few Houses. You should have a ridiculous amount of
money (I hadover 40,000g at this point), so there should be plenty left over.

>>> Lich

When re-stocked, head back into the Earth Cave, venture past the Vampire’s
room, hit the slab with the Rod, and then continue downwards. Eventually,
you’ll find the Lich.

BOSS: Lich
HP:   400
(I beat him at Level 13)

The Lich is honestly really easy. Heal to absolute maximum before starting,
then just Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight your way through it. I beat him in two
rounds with no casualties. He did cast ICE2 once and it hit each of my members
for 80-140 damage.

Jump in your ship and go west.

++++++++++++++++++++++
INTERLUDE: Class Change!
++++++++++++++++++++++

>>>Canoe, Floater, and Rat Tail

Dock your ship and walk west towards Crescent Lake. Trolls, Bulls, and Giants
 should be no problem. Watch out for Pedes. They are doable but can hit really
 hard.
Rest, stock up on Heals and Pures, then walk over to the 12 sages and speak
with Lukahn and the fellow next to him to receive the Canoe.

At this point, I prefer to get the Airship so I can get class-change and
become Masters, and THEN take on the Volcano. It’s a little ambitious to go
this route, but it makes the rest of the game easier, since you get the
Airship.

Benchmark: My party is now level 14 and deal 80-100 damage per attack, on
average. They will frequently Critical Hit though, which is 100-200 damage each
 time.

Refer to a worldmap to find the best entry to the labyrinth of rivers for the
Ice Cave, then head in. Be sure you are fully stocked with Heals and Pures.

The one nice thing about this is that since the party cannot wear any of the
 equipment in the cave, a good many battles can be avoided. Refer to a map of
the cave to determine the optimum pathway, but just focus on going in, getting
the Floater, and getting out. If any of the party die on the way in, re-load
and try again.

BOSS: Eye
HP:   162
(I beat him at Level 14, 1 round of combat, no casualties)

Just Fight, Fight, Fight your way through. Be sure you get the Floater before
 stepping on any other holes.

Once done, exit the cave, head back to your ship, and down to the Ryukhan
desert to raise the Airship! But for right now, leave the Airship there, get
back into the boat, and head straight south til you hit land. Then head west
-- press B+Select to see where you are in relation to the Castle Ordeals. There
is a river immediately next to the castle that you can access with your ship.
It’s far easier than parking your Airship so far away and hoofing it in.

Tackle the Castle Ordeals, be sure to get the Zeus Gauntlet -- it’s some
pseudo
-magic your party can use on small-fry fights, and also the Heal Staff, which
 heals your whole party (as per the HEAL spell) an amount equal to roughly 1/2
of a Heal Potion, each, but it can be used every round. When you get to the
last room, grab the Rat Tail, then heal up to max to fight the boss.

BOSS: ZombieD (x1-4)
HP:        268
(I beat these at level 15, no casualties -- I got lucky and only had to fight
2 though)

They’re pretty easy, but can hit hard. Fight, Fight, Fight!

When done, walk onto the throne and then head out. Take the ship back to the
desert, pick up the Airship, and go get your class change! You’re Masters
now!

======================================================
PART 2: Fire Orb
======================================================
Re-stock your supplies at the town of your choosing. You can stop by the town
of Gaia, up in the mountains northeast of the large desert. They have Gold
bracelets for 50k, which is a great way to liquidate some of that cash you’ve
been accumulating. They also have the wonderful ProRing for 20k each - these
not only have a great Armor Rating (best of any gauntlet) but also protect you
from all death magic, such as Rub. Buy ProRings first, and then as many Gold
Bracelets as possible.

>> Gurgu Volcano
This dungeon is comparable to the Ice Cave. Feel free to skip all the treasure
 chests, if you like -- they’re just sell-off fodder. Most of the fights, even
the "Fire" fights, are very manageable. Be careful of the enemies that can
cast FIR2, particularly if you encounter any RedDrs - they hit hard and can
cast FIR2 repeatedly.

During most fights, you can have one of your Masters use the Heal Staff as an
item to heal the party. The individual members should be hitting hard enough
that three of them attacking should be more than adequate. The small healing,
even at the expense of getting one or two hard hits back, will accumulate over
 time and, at the very least, offset the damage done by FIR2 / Scorch / other
all-party attacks.

When you finally get to Kary (she’s in the chamber to the west), Fight, Fight,
 Fight your way through.

BOSS: Kary
HP:   600
(I beat her at Level 17, in 4 rounds with 3 casualties)
Kary is a BEAST. She hits REALLY REALLY hard. Even with my members at full
life, 300 +/- 20hp, she can kill them in one hit. Don’t even bother healing,
it won’t matter. Just Fight, Fight, Fight and you’ll beat her.

Head through the exit, jump on the airship, and go revive / heal your party
and restock. Time to head underwater.

================================================
Part 3: Water Orb
================================================

Go to the desert west of the Waterfall, and get the “Bottle” (50k) from the
 Caravan in the little oasis at the north side of the desert. Take the bottle
back to Gaia and use it next to the water on the northeast corner of town
(accessed via the west, then north side). Talk to the fairy to get the Oxyale.

Go back to the town by the Waterfall and enter the submarine.

Head to the northeast stairwell, and fight your way to the end of this half.
There is some decent treasure, including an Opal Bracelet and the Light Axe
(casts HRM2). You probably want to give the Light Axe to someone who does not
 currently have a magic item. Be sure to pick up the SLAB, then head back to
the beginning and go up the Northwest stairwell. There is also a Ribbon
available, which will further protect one member. The Mage Staff (FIR2 on all
foes) is around here too.

Ultimately, you will work your way up to Kraken.

BOSS: Kraken
HP:        800
(I beat him at level 19, in 4 rounds with 1 casualty)

Kraken also hits really hard. Don’t bother healing here, either -- just Fight
with everyone.

When finished, head out and go recover and restock in town.

===================================================
PART 4: Air Orb
===================================================

At this point you should be level 20+.
BENCHMARK: You should be averaging 200 dmg per attack, with crits upwards of
400. Two attacks should prove more than enough for all but the most resilient
of foes, or bosses. Your HP should be pushing 400.

>>> Cube

While you’re in this town, head into the Waterfall to get the Cube. In the
 Waterfall you’ll also find the Defense weapon (DEF on party), Wizard Staff
(CONF on all foes), and another Ribbon. The enemies, particularly the MudGol
and Mummies, should be no problem. MudGol are easily dispatched with Fight,
and Mummies will largely fall to the Light Axe + Mage Staff.

>>> Chime

Go back to Melmond, talk to Dr. Unne in the Northeast corner (he looks
different than most townsfolk). Jump back in the airship and fly over to
Lufein. You’ll need to park just south of the small desert near Castle
Ordeals. Speak with someone in town to get the Chime. Briefly laugh about not
needing to spend 60k each on NUKE and LIF2.

>>> Mirage Tower

Restocked and ready, park near the giant desert and walk in.

In the lower floors, you can pick up a Heal Helmet, Thor Hammer, and some
random crap that you can’t use. Feel free to callously cast aside expensive
armor like the Aegis shield if you need room in your inventory -- there will
be practically no way for you to spend all of your money on anything necessary
at this point. Use the cube on the strange space-age device to ascend to the
castle in the sky.

In the Floating Castle, there is another Heal Helmet (so ever member should
have a healing item now), a White Shirt (INV2), a Black Shirt (ICE2), a Bane
Sword (BANE), and another Ribbon, bringing your total Ribbon count to 3.
You’ll probably need to drop some of your unused equipment.


>>> WarMech?
WARMECH (Variable #, though typically just 1)
HP:     1000
(I beat him at Lvl 24 with 2 casualties, 3 rounds)

If you choose to fight WarMech... Or rather, if WarMECH chooses to fight you,
you better just hope you get really lucky. If he surprises you (he always does
to me), one of your members will mostly certainly die.

I had to reload several times, though I beat him on three separate occasions,
only the last one left 2 party members standing. Tiamat is nigh-impossible
with only one member, unless you get really lucky with your Bane Sword.

BOSS: Tiamat
HP:   1000
(I beat him at Lvl 24 with no casualties, using only 2 members, 5 rounds)

I tried Tiamat multiple times with only one character, and it’s just not
possible. On a long-shot, you might get the Bane sword to kill him, when used
as an item. But with two members, he’s beatable, provided he is using his
abilities (Thunder, Poison) instead of just attacking you directly. Don’t heal
or do anything cute during the battle, just attack away. Critical hits are
key,so attacking as much as possible will help.

=========================================
PART 5: Chaos
=========================================
This is it. The last part.

Get a map. The temple has lots of lengthy pathways that involve fighting nasty
 monsters. With the ProRings and Ribbons, most of the dastardly effects (RUB,
for example) should be avoidable. You should have adequate magic items to dole
out any kind of elemental attack that is appropriate.

You’ll have to fight each of the four fiends again. Skip all the treasure.
Skip the Masamune, even, since you can likely do hundreds of damage per round,
 anyways. Just go straight for Chaos.

LICH HP:   500
KARY HP:   700
KRAKEN HP: 900
TIAMAT HP: 1100
CHAOS HP:  2000

(I beat him at Lvl 26, 1 casualty, 5 rounds)

Use the White Shirt for INV2, and beyond that, just Fight, Fight, Fight.
 Seriously. He’ll Stun some of your guys, probably kill at least one. The
Ribbons and ProRings should protect your members from any instant death
effects. Don't bother doing anything cute with magic items beyond that initial
INV2.

It is possible he will use CUR4, completely healing himself. This sucks. But
keep going, you might still beat him and I don’t think he can use it twice.
After several rounds of fighting, he should finally fall.

You did it!