Unlocking the "Combo Master" Awakening.
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* Make sure your team deals abysmal damage; it doesn't need to be 1 per hit though. It's fine as long as the enemy can take it without dying. Try to use the weakest weapons possible. "Stat Decay" ability (ATK/INT -30%) from Versus Style helps a lot, as well as the Handicap 1~3, depending on your levels AND the target monster's strength (which, of course, also depends on the difficulty). I'm not sure Handicap 4 is safe; use it as required.
* Make sure the enemy deals abysmal damage to you as well. Since you'll most likely be using Handicap abilities, the defenses will also be lowered. Which is why the ultimate solution is the Manhan Quanxi recipe (DEF +40%, Phys. DMG -80%). You need to find the first four Fabled Recipes after getting the Airship before this one, but after all the work, it's as useful as it sounds.
* Next, pick a durable monster. My recommendation is the Behemoths. They're respawning monsters, usually appear in a group of two, move very slowly, sufficiently defensive, can take well over 100~150 hits before entering Rage Mode, and use only Fireball and Stone Blast for spells. They appear in the Sky Castle, which is a one-time dungeon, but once your Guild Rank hits 10, they become staple monsters in all Guild Dungeons. Jabberwocks in Tower of Dawn might probably work, since they're of the same "species"/model, but haven't tried those. They're also a bit more dangerous.
Now the real challenge: Combos. You have to keep it going without any pause. This includes your fighters getting knocked off the ground by enemy attacks, your combos ending at their limit, etc. And here are the tips I learned from my own attempt which finally yielded the required result.
* Know when the combo breaks. A single fighter's combo ends after the [Normal Attack > Tokugi > Higi > Ogi (> Hi Ogi)] sequence. It also breaks when you switch targets, the target falls to the ground, or when it's enraged. And remember: You can't combo on enraged monsters. Even for the same monster species, it's unpredictable to guess when it'll be downed. As for the Rage Mode, it's also not fixed, probably depending on the damage of your hits. Either way, observe the monster and take it on again and again before the actual attempt. BE PATIENT. (You just might hit the combo limit before the actual attempt, but don't fixate on it.) Also, I don't recommend Hi Ogi; they cap off the combo by nature and with the long recovery scene after using them, and you need the Tension bar for Infinity Jam anyhow.
* Adjust your team. This may sound obvious, but it's more than just using characters you're good with. See, the combo HAS to be done on a single target, so all three fighters has to keep piling on the hits. And this becomes somewhat problematic when all three are melee fighters. Since none of the individuals on the field are pass-throughs, your characters block each other's reach and thus cannot achieve the required hit count. Which is why gunners are highly suggested here; especially Ricardo, since he can shoot anywhere in the field while Iria only reaches about half the screen. She might be useful with CPU control though. Basically, no more than two melee fighters.
* Choose abilities. Have Speed Up abilities on all three; stat penalties don't matter here, especially if you're using Handicap. If you're using gunners, equip Stealth (Wisdom Style) on them. With this, Ricardo can easily snipe away the target from the back row without needing to move an inch. Combo Plus can work fine if you can spare a slot, but it's just one more hit per chain; adjust to your needs.
* Know which Artes to use; this is mostly for a seamless Infinity Jam. Use Artes which execute immediately, use quick blows, and hit a lot of times. Avoid downing moves like Beast (Hermana), ones that basically end-caps a combo like Arc Toss (Hermana), ones which take time between hits like Rising Dragon (Hermana), or ones which pushes the target away from the fighter like Spada's Thrust attacks.
* Next, set the arts in a UNIFORM sequence. This is for a smooth, flawless comboing in Infinity Jam without having to remember which buttons you need to press. For example, I used B for Tokugi, Side+B for Higi and UP+B for Ogi, for all three.
* Equip the strongest armor you can get. And adjust the accessories according to the enemy's offenses. In case of Behemoths, Fire and Earth protections are required.
When you're done setting up the characters, next up is the Strategy.
* Set the two melee fighters to "All-Out" with "Focus on attacking" command at #1 priority. Set "Using recovery items needed" on one of them if you wanna be secure; this is for both the HP and TP recovery when you're using Handicap. Control the gunner yourself.
* Don't use Healing Magic; they take time. Turn them off and use items instead.
* Here's an important choice: Will you have both melee fighters pile on a single target? Or have one keep the other target at bay? Behemoths come in two, and while they don't deal much damage under right settings, one of them has a tendency of walking into your gunner's line of fire, thus taking the bullets for itself and changing the target, which breaks the combo. If you wanna use one of the fighters to keep the other target back, equip Lure ability(Guardian Style) and "Target a different enemy" command on him/her. You'll have to choose between Lure and the recovery item command for that character; it's not impossible to have both, but he/she can't use items
* Know when to butt-in, and know when to stop; this is especially critical for the gunner. The idea is to have at least one character piling on the target at any time. Watch their moves, and after they've started the Ogi, start your own chain.
* Prepare the gunner for Infinity Jam; equip Slow Waker, All-Nighter, and if you have room, Light Sleeper. all from Innocent Style. Observe when the enemy starts to get riled up (Blue) and goes berserk (Red) to know when to trigger; this mostly involves fighting the same enemy over and over. Again, be patient. Take a rough estimate of minimum hits. Behemoths can take well around 110 hits safely, most of the time. One important note: Once you've inputted the command for the current character's Ogi (press multiple times if you wanna be sure), press L and switch to the other character and start the next combo chain.
* Don't think about recovery; just pile on and on. That's the entire point of using Manhan Quanxi. If you need TP, you can try forging the TP Regen skill on the gunner's weapon, but you do have enough time to stop shooting and use a Gel on yourself while the melee fighter is on his turn.
* After getting the required hit count, equip your strongest weapons, and then just keep attacking. Use magic to deal more damage. It might take a while, but the battle'll eventually end.
* Final tip: Be patient, and leave some things to luck. It comes down to the AI, both yours and enemies'. Not that the AI's bad - in fact, ToI has one of the really tidy AIs I've ever seen - just that the randomness of enemies can throw your tactics off balance - then again, that's how they're supposed to be. Have a save ready with EVERYTHING set and ready to go; if it didn't go well, reload and retry.
Note that these are just my observations from my attempts. I'm not a combo expert by any means, and it took me about 90 minutes to figure things out. This is just a relatively reliable method if you're intent on unlocking the Combo Master achievement. Some of these tips can apply to any situation, and some apply to only my tactic. Feel free to tweak things to your liking.
Just for reference, this is the party and Artes I used.
Ricardo: Merciless Hunt - Brutal Hunt - (Raging Hunt / Snipe Gate)
Spada: Sword Rain - (Sword Rain Alpha / Thunder Claw) - Sword Tempest
Hermana: Talon Storm - Talon Blast - (Swallow Storm/Phantom Dragon Dance)
Phew! That's long, ain't it? I hope this at least helps somebody who's not very used to long combos.
Another option is to pick a boss and put Ange and Iria in your party (I recommend using Ruca for player character), as some have insane HP and your damage output is low (like Gigantes Z, for example), just make Ange and Iria attack with Ray and Ice Tornado , while you do a combo so they can cast again and continue to get more hits (you have to time when to attack, as the idea is to do it when the spell is going to end), the Ruca combo that works the best for this purpose (imo) is :
Normal Attacks > Tempest > Blazing Tempest > Searing Gale
You can do way more than 200 hits with this tactic, and if you want to try, you can infinite jam the enemy and may even reach the 999 mark (well, if it has enough HP...)
Hmm! I gotta try that sometime. Thanks! My problem is that I can't sync well with combo chains involving magic; I haven't practiced yet, to be accurate.
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Doing it against a boss is no good; the skits happen immediately after battle if there is no cut scene. As every boss battle has a cut scene right after it, you can't get Combo Master as the result of a boss fight.
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really? didn´t remember that, well, the strategy works with normal enemies too, so you just need to kill the others fast and then switch equipment to the weakest weapons (stick ftw)
Nice, thanks to all for the info. When I am ready to try for that skit, I'll be coming back for this :).
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