FF13: What I wish I’d figured out sooner

February 13th, 2010

There are a few aspects of Final Fantasy 13 gameplay regarding the shop/economy/item system that I did not figure out until relatively late in the game. Both were probably due to my (relative) illiteracy in Japanese. (日本語がちょっとだけ読めます)

Note that you can largely ignore the shops until very late in the game (even until the postgame!), so this didn’t actually hurt me very much.

Raw material types

I figured out early that some 素材 (raw materials) increase the EXP multiplier for a piece of equipment and some give lots of EXP but lower the EXP multiplier. I didn’t realize it was easy to tell which was which.

There are three types of items:

  • Biological materials increase the EXP multiplier but doesn’t give much actual EXP.
  • Mechanical/artificial materials give lots of EXP but lower the EXP multiplier.
  • Catalysts let you upgrade an item once it’s maxed out.

It’s easy to tell which is which, even if you can’t read, because they have different icons.

Some materials are designed to be sold

I got most of the extra money I used for the occasional store purchase by selling phoenix wings (フェニックスの尾). What I didn’t notice was that some of the items I assumed were for increasing EXP multiplier were actually for selling to the store.

I would not have made this mistake were I a native Japanese speaker; the item descriptions for these are usually pretty clear. Notable early-game examples:

  • クレジットチップ (Credit chip), sells for 500 and only gives 1 EXP (as a mechanical item!)
  • プレミアムチップ (Premium chip), sells for 2500

For a full list, see http://playshinra.com/ff13/material.html#ncb7f44e (in Japanese)

FF13 adamantoise farming

February 13th, 2010

I’ve been playing a lot of Final Fantasy 13 lately, and am trying to finish up the post-game content. The most efficient way to gain power towards the end of the game seems to be farming the adamantoise class monsters. These are the giant turtle-like monsters you see walking around on the surface near the end of the game.

Their common loot drop is a platinum ingot (プラチナインゴット) which sells for 150K. Their rare drop is a trapezohedron (トラペゾヘドロン) which is the catalyst for upgrading each character’s weapons into their final form, which otherwise cost 2M. They also give 40K CP. (80K with a grow egg)

They are easily the hardest of the normal non boss/mission monsters to beat, at least without some technique/preparation.


I’m using a party of Fang, Snow, and Lightning.

  • Beat the final boss for the 10th Crystarium level.
  • Finish the default classes for each character. It helps to get the CP doubling グロウエッグ (grow egg) accessory from completing mission 55, which is feasible even before beating the game because the mission boss is vulnerable to Vanille’s death (デス) spell.
  • Upgrade Fang’s enhancer class until she gets ヘイスト (haste). Fang also has shorter but more powerful ダブル versions of bravery/faith/protect/shell.
  • Equip both グッドチョイス (good choice) and ベストチョイス (best choice) accessories. The former increases loot drops in general, the latter increases rare drops. You can buy good choice or get it from mission 8; best choice is the upgrade of good choice.
  • Get a 源氏の小手 (Genji Glove) accessory from completing mission 51 and equip it on Fang to remove her 100K damage cap.
  • Equip suitable second level weapons on your party. High attack power is crucial.
  • Equip some upgraded パワーグローブ (power glove) accessories, which max out at +250 strength. They are upgrades to ウォリアーリスト which you can buy from B&W. You might even upgrade one to a カイザーナックル (kaiser knuckle) for +300, but that requires an expensive ダークマター (dark matter).
  • Do not unlock the super adamantoises by completing missions 56-62 yet, they replace most of the normal adamantoises, or so I understand. (I’m not there yet.)

Adamantoise Types

There are four types of adamantoises. The easiest are アダマンケリス which do not have tusks. They also have less than 1M HP and do relatively little damage, but have relatively weak loot drops: 砂金 (gold dust) and ヒヒイロカネ (scarlet gold?). These do not have tusks. They wander the plains, and a number of them guard treasure spheres with 金塊 (gold nuggets/bars) which sell for 60K.

アダマントータス are the weakest of the tusked adamantoises. There is one standing still in each of the two entrances to the area where you first encounter サボテンダー (the cactuar/cactus monsters). One of the two encounters has three dogs.

アダマンタイマイ are (initially) the hardest of the adamantoises. You find them wandering the plains (Their breakpoints are double that of アダマントータス (500% for the body, 300% for legs) and they have about 50% more HP.

The “super adamantoises” (シャオロングイ?) are stronger versions you see after completing missions 56-62; you get a trophy for beating them. They’re probably not suitable for farming.


The stronger adamantoises have three targetable parts: two legs and a head. As long as they still have legs they do powerful stomp attacks (thousands of damage each). Once you knock out their legs they fall for a while, at which point they stop damage and are a lot weaker.

Bahamut (Technique 1)

This is the easiest way to take one down, but requires 3TP. The key here is to use Fang’s バハムート (Bahamut) summon to take out both legs at once, then break the head and ATK/ATK/ATK it to death. My technique is:

  1. Start with ENH/ENH/ENH. Cast ヘイスト and ブレイダ on Fang.
  2. Switch to JAM/whatever/whatever. Summon Bahamut.
  3. Throw a bunch of debuffs. デプロテ is important. Continue until it’s heavily debuffed and almost broken, at which point you’ll still have 10-20K SP.
  4. Switch to ATK/whatever/whatever. Attack until SP runs out, switch to drive.
  5. Use bahamut abilities. (Does this time count against the time it’s down? If so you might be better off finishing early).
  6. Once you’re done with Bahamut, switch to ENH/ENH/ENH. Cast ヘイスト and ブレーダ on Fang and Snow, maybe Lightning too.
  7. JAM/BLA/BLA until it’s around 800%.
  8. ATK/ATK/ATK until it’s dead. Hopefully this will be before it stands up. It might help to use ハイウィンド (Highwind) if it’s close to dead and the break gauge is almost out.

This approach will fail if you can’t kill the adamantoise within a single break. I found the アダマンタイマイ actually a little easier this way because they do not break as early, so you spend more time with a very high break gauge doing 90K+ damage per attack.

Time saving tip: you can press select to skip summon animations.

No summon (technique 2)

The idea is to break the legs and take them out with Highwind (ハイウィンド). Highwind is Fang’s special attack, intended as a finishing blow: it uses all her ATB and does a lot of damage, but returns the break gauge to 100%. Note that Highwind requires a Genji glove to be effective, otherwise it will just do 99999 damage — not enough to break a leg which has 246600. (356200 for the -マイ)

The problem with the Bahamut approach is that it uses 3 TP, so you need to do several combats to recover TP in between each fight. Ideally you want to beat one without using TP. I didn’t succeed until I upgraded Fang’s weapon; the sixth ATB helps a lot especially with Highwind damage. Note that Highwind *requires* a Genji glove to be effective; it will otherwise just do 99999 damage and unbreak the target.

This approach works better against the weaker アダマントータス, since their legs are easier to break. It still can fail if you get unlucky, either due to unlucky distribution of damage or a bad Highwind.

  1. Throw power/barrier smokes, start in ATK/BLA/BLA
  2. Do a round of attacks on the right leg, then get ready to Highwind once your allies break the leg
  3. Highwind the leg, hopefully taking it out. (If not, restart)
  4. Repeat on the left leg.
  5. Hope the fall doesn’t kill anyone.
  6. (If applicable) Kill off the dogs.
  7. Switch to JAM/BLA/BLA. Continue until it reaches ~800%. Switch to ATK/ATK/ATK and DPS it to death.

Note that it is okay to use power/barrier smokes because they can be bought for 12K each. Ether smokes (fill up TP) can not be bought, or else we could ust use the Bahamut strategy repeatedly.

Vanille summon/death (technique cheap)

I haven’t tried this myself, but I saw a youtube video — you can use Vanille’s summon and then デス all the parts. This isn’t going to be reliable but may be feasible even before the ending.


My current technique:

  1. Kill the two アダマントータス, using two smokes each. This puts me over 3TP.
  2. Kill an アダマンタイマイ using a summon and no smokes.
  3. Assign my 240K CP.
  4. Save at the save point near the アダマントータス without wolves.
  5. Return to title, reload, repeat.

Email thread replies

June 9th, 2009

A pet peeve of mine: many people do not realize that the email you are replying to is in the email header. (Specifically the “In-Reply-To” and “References” headers)

This feature makes it much easier to thread emails. It is easy for a mail client to tell that message X is in reply to message Y. It also has the side benefit that you can change the subject of a conversation without breaking the thread, if the subject of the conversation changes.

With that said, often people construct a new (non reply) email to a mailing list by

  1. Reply to an email sent to the list
  2. Clear the subject and contents of the email, and any recipients other than the list itself
  3. Set a new subject
  4. Write the email

When you do this, your email shows up as a reply to the original email! This is bad — your email might be missed as a reply to an older thread, and you leak information. It clutters up the thread information; neither you nor I want your email nested among the old thread. It makes it harder to read old threads. As such, I go through and manually fix the problem in my mailbox — which means that you’re making me do extra work!

The A correct way to send a new non-reply email to a list

  1. Create a new message (not a reply)
  2. Set the To: field to the mailing list address
  3. Set the subject to whatever
  4. Write the email

You can, of course, start with a reply and strip out the relevant headers, if your mail client lets you do that easily.

Note that the converse is also true — it is not correct to construct a reply by creating a new message and copying in the contents of the old one. However, the most common cause of missing reply headers is broken email clients rather than misinformed users.

Laundry Race Condition

November 2nd, 2008

It turns out the dryer in my apartment building has an interesting race condition: if you put more money in right when time runs out the dryer will not notice and stop, just as if you hadn’t put any additional change in the machine.

It just cost me $1 to discover this interesting bug.


November 29th, 2007

Apparently Endianness comes from Guilliver’s Travels.

Furthermore, apparently its shocking that I did not know this. Doubly so since I read (most of) the book 15 years ago.

This will make it easier for me to keep straight that big endian means big end first, which is something I had trouble remembering until recently.

The Power of Chuck!

July 8th, 2007

My clothing was imbued by the power of Chuck!

On the 4th of July, I joined a bunch of Oliners to watch the Boston fireworks from the Charles river.

We brought a bunch of inflatable rafts and launched into the river. Unfortunately, I slipped out of my boat and fell into the river while boarding it, thus imbuing my clothing, cell phone, and wallet with Chuck water.

My phone went through its death throes and would not power off. I have not yet disassembled it, but it looks like it is dead…

We rowed downriver towards the fireworks, somewhat behind everyone else. Meanwhile, most of the rest of us got kicked out of the river by the coast guard for not having life vests… so, when we caught up we disembarked at the Harvard bridge and watched the fireworks from the side of the river.

Quite a spectacular display.

Now, I need to decide what to get to replace my Hiptop/Sidekick 2. (SK3? iPhone?)

Left of Way

July 3rd, 2007

During my crazyland Boston visit this week, I am just struck by how different the pedestrian/car interaction is here from Chicago, or even Champaign.

As I understand it, the point of “right of way” is to clarify who should yield to whom. Being polite is suboptimal, because that just leads to confusion when people can’t decide who should go first.

In Boston, traffic tends to

  1. Fail to notice pedestrians
  2. Assumes pedestrians will ignore traffic lights when convenient

The latter gives pedestrians, in the absence of immediate traffic a sort of “left of way” when entering intersections here. Sure, it’s technically jaywalking, but it strikes me as unproductive not to do it. I’m just a little more conservative about it than the natives…

Clown Pants

January 1st, 2007

Today I tried putting on one of my favorite pairs of pants from a couple of years back. I still wear it occasionally, but today it really just struck me how poorly they fit now along the waistline.

Seriously, they look like clown pants on me now! They’ve got elastic, and if I stretch the extra space out in front of me I could fit a paperback book there, face up. I could not decently wear them with suspenders without exposing my briefs to passersby.

Not that I’ve worn suspenders in a good eight years.

Even then, it’s getting too bad to use a belt for; there’s simply too much waist material. They’ll probably have to go soon. They’re quite comfortable, but I don’t think the radical alterations needed to get them fitting properly now are feasible and worthwile.

The funny thing is, two years ago I wore pants along my hip rather than my waist. Back then I found size 46 pants comfortable at my hip, now I find size 38 pants comfortable at my waist.

Half of what’s scary about this is that I’m clearly still overweight. My belly sticks out a fair bit, and my upper legs are quite flabby. That said, my skin clearly thanks me; the stretch marks are fading. As I close in on 100 pounds down from my peak of 310, it’s becoming quite clear that my ideal weight (without major muscle gain) is somewhat below 200. I wasn’t certain that it was below 220 when I started this whole thing.

It all started with someone pointing me at The Hacker’s Diet. I didn’t even follow advice in it that aggressively, but just took away the single realization that dieting is a game of small differences. Cutting out non-diet soda and cutting back my diet a little and my weight started dropping a good 1.5 pounds a week; I was amazed at the sheer amount of food I was still eating. And now, a little over two years later (with a good 9 month hiatus at around 250) it’s dropping below 220. I didn’t take a good “before” picture, and really only now am noticing the differences to my appearance. Still, there’s incidental things, like being able to do a single (just one) push up without daily training…

My biggest New Year’s resolution this time is to see this through; continue dieting until I hit my ideal weight. Like any good resolution, it is a “continue,” just as it was two years ago.

Do stuff!

December 19th, 2006

As a first serious post on this blog, the advice I’ve been giving to freshmen, especially in engineering and computer science:

Do stuff!

As a freshman in electrical engineering, I was quite daunted by electronics projects and the like. Heck, I didn’t even really know what a transistor was. I figured that I would be better prepared to work on EE projects after a year or two.

That mindset leads to failure! You will never get anything done!

If you think something is interesting, go do it! Maybe it will be over your head, but maybe it will not. You’ll probably find that it is not as difficult as you think.
This is a lot like the computer purchase problem. It is always tempting to put off purchasing a computer for a few months to wait for the next round of technology, but if you do that you’ll never actually purchase any of it. As much as that might be a good thing, it’s almost the same idea. The major difference is that, while purchasing a CPU now does not make the CPU a year from now any faster, if you spend time working on cool projects now you’ll be that much better of an engineer/hacker/academic.

So go forth, do cool stuff, and have fun!

A first post

December 17th, 2006

This is a first post; more coming soon.