- Choosing The Right Starting Character
- Grinding Is A Mistake
- Watch Your LP
- Understanding Magic Schools
- Don't Forget To Equip Your Proficiencies
- Be Sociable: Talk To Everyone And Hit The Bar
- Upgrade Your Classes
Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song is a very intimidating game for RPG newbies and veterans alike – it doesn't make many attempts to hold your hand, the mechanics aren't well-described, and it's easy to trip into unwinnable situations right off the bat.
After a few hours with the game, everything starts to fall into place, but those first few hours can feel like a slog if you don't know what you're doing. To that end, we have some great tips that should ease your experience.
Choosing The Right Starting Character
When you start the game, you're given the choice between eight different starting characters, each having a different introductory sequence and starting location. This can greatly alter how difficult the first few hours of the game are for you, especially if you're new to the SaGa series, which has very complex mechanics to contend with.
Of the eight characters, Albert is often cited as the best one to start with – he has a pretty traditional, linear storyline before the game's world opens up to you, and this is likely to be the best way to get to grips with the game for RPG fans.
While Albert is, indeed, a great starter character, it wouldn't be bad to start with Jamil, Claudia, Hawke, or Aisha. The only ones to avoid for newbies are Sif, Gray, and Barbara:
- Sif's introductory quest is quite difficult and would be better tackled in a New Game Plus or second playthrough.
- Gray and Barbara don't have much in the way of an introduction and offer very little to go on. Gray especially begins in a tough area to deal with, filled with enemies that you're not meant to fight at the beginning of the game.
Grinding Is A Mistake
In most RPGs, grinding against random monsters is a great way to gain levels, stats, and treasure. In Minstrel Song (as with most SaGa games), this is a trap – yes, you'll be able to boost your stats a little, but excessive grinding will be your downfall.
Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song's overall progression works on a mechanic known as Event Rank – as your Event Rank increases, higher-level quests unlock, lower-level quests get failed if not completed, and the end of the game gets closer. Instead, you should be avoiding as many battles as you can to keep your Event Rank low – this will keep quests available longer. You'll get enough stats from forced fights and encounters you simply cannot escape.
Use your supply of Smoke Bombs to escape battles! These can be replenished at inns, so use them liberally. If you run out of Smoke Bombs but are confident that you'll get to a town soon enough, you can Retreat from battles at the cost of one LP.
Remember that you have to equip the Smoke Bomb Pouch to a character to use them!
If you're worried about your gold and jewel reserves, know that the best way to get them is to complete quests. You get very small amounts from random battles.
Watch Your LP
LP, or Life Points, are very important. A character loses a Life Point whenever they get knocked out in battle and whenever they are the one instigating a Retreat.
If a character falls to zero Life Points, they will leave your party – if they're a unique character (in other words, they have a name and personality), they can be recruited again, but generic characters (who have the name of classes/occupations) will be lost forever. Generic characters can also be identified by their relatively low LP totals in comparison to unique characters.
It is also possible to lose LP by using skills that you're not skilled enough to use yet – these will be colored either yellow or red in the skills menu. Be wary when using these in battle and make an effort to boost your skill levels.
To restore your LP, you will need to sleep at an Inn. Beware, the free option will not restore your LP – you need to pick an option that explicitly restores it.
Understanding Magic Schools
A basic feature of Minstrel Song's magic system is that there are ten different schools of magic, each one with an appropriate skill associated with it. These schools form five pairs of two, as depicted in the table below:
Each character can only have one half of a pair active at any one time. For example, if Albert knows a few Pyrology spells and then learns a Hydrology spell, he will not be able to use any of his Pyrology spells anymore. To rectify this, he could either purchase a new Pyrology spell or spend a small amount of gold to recall his Pyrology.
Recalling a school of spells can only be done at a magic merchant who sells spells from that school.
Don't Forget To Equip Your Proficiencies
All characters in this game have access to Proficiencies, whether you train them yourself in exchange for gold or they simply come with them equipped to begin with. Proficiencies are your field abilities, allowing you to trade with monsters, find treasure, and interact with the environment in new ways, such as climbing or jumping.
You have to equip Proficiencies in the menu. The number of times you can use a Proficiency depends on the combined levels of your characters and which Proficiencies they possess – you get more uses for each individual character who possesses that Proficiency, and more depending on the level of the skill that the Proficiency belongs to (such as Search or Survival).
Be Sociable: Talk To Everyone And Hit The Bar
Talking to NPCs and exploring new settlements is pretty standard fare for RPGs, but it's even more important in this game. A great deal of the quests, rumors, and hints in the game come from random NPCs, so it's vital that you talk to absolutely everyone you come across. Those who can be talked to will remain stationary while those walking around have nothing to tell you.
Importantly, you should talk to the children – there's one child per settlement who belongs to the Volunteer Brigade. Not only can they provide you with hints and information, but they're how you get town maps in each settlement. Make it a habit to seek these NPCs out every time you explore somewhere new.
In addition to chatting with NPCs, you should always head to the pub in each settlement. This is where you'll find the majority of the recruitable characters in the game – chatting to them will let you recruit them easily.
You'll also find the Minstrel here – this character can provide lore, let you remove characters from your party, and even join the party himself. He can be annoying to take along, as heading to the bar while he's in your party will instantly remove him so he can provide his usual services, but chatting to him again will let you get him back. He's a strong character in the early hours!
Upgrade Your Classes
You can use your hard-earned jewels to improve your skills by talking to Mentors – the same people who teach you Proficiencies.
While you don't really have to pay attention to your class to be effective in battle, only the skill levels of what you use to fight, it's good to know what bonuses your class grant. Specifically, using skills and spells that are required to change into a class will be more effective and cost less BP in battle.
There are three tiers of class:
- Basic Classes require three different skills at level one to take.
- Advanced Classes require five different skills at level two to take.
- Legendary Classes require seven different skills at level three to take. These are very expensive but all have a fantastic reduction in BP cost across the board.
While Mentors can train characters in the skillsets of all the Basic and Advanced classes they offer, they do not do this for Legendary Classes, so you'll likely have to shop around to raise the required skills.
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