Tips & Strategies
Before feeding your dragons, make sure your party's equipped with the best stuff the shops have to offer, as much as you can afford. (Don't waste money on arms just to find out you already have stuff that's as good or better. Either save your game and check out the stat changes before buying, or look at the Weapons and Armor page on this shrine.) Once your party's all tricked out, spend your excess money on dragon food. As well, feed your dragons any armor or weapons that were de-equipped as a result of your buying new equipment, or any lesser-strength equipment you won in battle.
The first things you should buy with excess money is mushrooms. Buy and feed until all your dragons have maximum Dexterity, Mind, Thunder, Life, and Poison. Once that happens, spend your excess money on Difficult Books and Porno Mags (use Porno Mags to raise Strength and Difficult Books to recover the lost Wisdom). Once Strength hits 250, you'll have all your dragons in Holy or Dark form (assuming you used Grasses or elemental armor/weapons to raise their Fire and Ice elements to 100). After that, spend excess money on buying armor and raising Vitality. Once it hits 250, you've got yourself a Master Dragon. 8-) Once you've got all Master Dragons, buy Mushrooms to raise HP till 9999. Once you've got *that*, spend your excess money on healing items, lots of them. Feed Magic Gins to dragons to raise their MP.
About Grasses and general items: Go ahead and use your Grasses to raise elementals, but at the start of the game, raise each dragon's current elemental (i.e. raise Fire for Salmando, Ice for Icedrake, etc.) before raising any others. The reason for this is that it's far better for a dragon to have one strong attack then five weak ones. 8-) Once every dragon (for example) has Fire at 100, sell any Fire Grasses you win after that; they're pretty good cash. Ditto for if every dragon has Strength at 250; sell any swords and axes you get (unless you need their elemental raises). See the Stats page for info on which items raise which stats; once a stat has reached its max for all dragons, you can sell any items that raise that stat. This includes Dexterity, Mind, and HP, because it's far better to sell those items and buy mushrooms instead; the mushrooms give you far better effects for their amazingly low costs. 8-)
About Uni Unis and Behemoths: I recommend not ever having your dragons in either of these forms, definitely until you get your seventh (reserve) dragon. If your dragon turns into a Uni Uni or Black Dragon in the course of feeding them, give them a single Heal to revert them to a more normal form. For Behemoths, just don't feed them Princess's ??? items. 8-) Once you get Puppy, you may keep one dragon in reserve as a Behemoth or Uni Uni. If you do, you should pair up your Mini-Devil group of four with them, as their skills already fail fairly often anyway. 8-) Never pair up any other characters with Uni Unis or Behemoths.
If you're wondering why a dragon's acting the way it is in battle, check out the Stats page for an explanation of each stat and how to raise/lower it.
If you find yourself with no mushroom or book shop, just do a side quest. After you're done, you'll end up on the Farnheit bridge and you'll be able to enter all the stores (after chapter 7, this includes Matelite equipment, mushrooms, and books).
The two most important classes you'll be dealing with are Light Armors and Lancers (you'll get 3 of the former and 4 of the latter). Light Armors can raise how many squares you can move, so put them with any parties who lack good field attacks, such as Heavy Armors and Knights. That way they can get closer to the enemy faster. Spread them out among three groups. Lancers should also be spread out among another three groups (keep the fourth in reserve and swap him out when the others' levels are higher than his) because these groups will be slower and hence will have less chance to raise EXP. With Lancers, just use Javelin on the field for (almost) free EXP!
Your Summoners should always be together, and I recommend putting 3 Wizards together as well. You shouldn't need more than 2 Priests together, though. Instead of putting all your Heavy Armors together and the Knights together, stagger them, so you'll have both Defense and Critical in your melee-heavy party. Whenever you do use Mini-Devils, you should put all 4 of them together, too. When you get your Assassins, you might want to spread them out to allow more units to use them, or you might want to put them together to have greater effect for their spells; you decide. For rare battles where you'll want to be affecting terrain a lot (e.g. the one with the huge cannons) you may want to put a Wizard in as many parties as possible.
Always do swapping; you'll eventually have a bunch of characters in reserve, so once their levels end up being lower than the levels of your active parties, swap them. This way you'll keep everyone's levels satisfactory and you won't have anyone really overpowered. However, you should always have both Cross Knights, all three Light Armors, and both Summoners/Dragnars in every battle.
Dragon Association: Be smart. Put dragons with high Dexterity with Light Armors, dragons with high Thunder with Matelite, high Strength with Knights, high Vitality with Heavy Armors, and high Mind with Mini-Devils (if you use them). To put that another way, you'll want to feed your dragon Dexterity-raising items first if they're associated with a Light Armor, Strength-raising items if they're with Knights, etc.
There are three different kinds of dances. All three kinds fail often, so never count on their doing good damage all the time. Pair up three of them with another character (such as Light Armor) for maximum potential. Here's a lowdown of the pros and cons of the different dances.
Devil Dance: This is if you pair them with a normal dragon. The good thing about this is that it's far less risky than the other dances; the only spell that doesn't do good stuff is Heal Enemy HP, which only executes randomly during melee battles, and Heal All, which rarely happens on the field (but only at level 10). However, the attack spells aren't nearly as strong as the other two. What's more, the spells do have elementals, so if you're in the wrong place (e.g. on a bridge or in a forest) when the wrong elemental goes off, you're in deep brown stuff.
Reggae Dance: This is if you pair them up with an Unknown Form/Behemoth. The list of dances here is better in melee battles (not to mention the Behemoth can only attack in melee battles anyway). In the field, you've got three out of eight spells that will have bad effects (like healing the enemy or hurting you). Inside, there's only one. And if you've got three Mini-Devils with Reggae Dance level 10, you can do some real damage in battle... if you're lucky. However, even outside of battle this can wreak some major havoc since three out of eight spells give incredibly powerful damage at level 10. Probably the best one to team them up with if you like using them.
Fright Dance: This is if you pair them up with a Uni Uni/Black Dragon. By far the riskiest and strangest dance. The main addition here is two field spells called Complete Heal All and Frog All. The first completely heals all HP and MP for every unit on the battlefield; the second does 25% damage to every unit. Complete Heal All can be really useful sometimes; it's the only spell that restores dragon MP! And if there are a lot of undead enemies (such as in the Persona or Temple of Memory fight) you can even damage them with it! The good news is that if you've already beaten a bunch of enemies, you'll be completely restored while they'll stay dead. 8-) The bad news is that if you're up against some strong enemies and this is used, it'll erase all your hard work. Also, the rest of their field spells are a real toss-up; only four of them will do real work for you; the other five will work against you in some way. In melee battle it's a bit better, but not by much. Use if you like risks!
When using Dances, it's probably a better idea to be close to enemies but not friends. If you heal enemies you generally won't heal for that much HP, but if you damage your friends you can really put yourself in a bad position. And their good attacks (Bagdem, Super Secret Attack, Ragnarok etc.), when they happen, can easily do 9999 damage. 8-) If you want to cheat, do this: save your state, try a dance; if it's not the one you want, restore, have another unit do its turn, save again, and try again. Repeat as necessary. This only works for field dances, though, not melee ones. (Field dances are decided after each unit takes a turn, so it won't change, but melee dances are really random.)
First off let's discuss field attacks versus melee attacks (close-up battle): which to choose? Here are the pros and cons. Pros for field attacks:
And here's the pros for melee attacks.
As you can see, it depends on the situation. Wizards/Priests/Summoners are generally better using field attacks because of their horrible defense and the chances of hitting multiple targets. The other physical characters (including Lancers) are generally better off using melee attacks, unless they're low on HP. Assassins can be equally useful in both (although they're not all that useful in either, to tell the truth). Ditto for Cross Knights, really. If an enemy is near death, it's always better to go in and use melee attacks to get better items and money.
Inside battle, use techniques sparingly; if you have a non-elemental weapon, try to use them only when delivering a killing blow against an enemy (items dropped by enemies are ALWAYS better when they're defeated with an elemental). Wizards, Priests, Lancers, and Assassins can use techniques more often, and later in the game when you can afford lots of Magic Gins, go ahead and use them a lot. 8-) NEVER use items in a melee battle. Attack items are more or less useless except as dragon food, and healing items should instead be used in the Party sub-menu before battle.
Dragon AI: I'll usually tell you in each battle in the walkthrough what to put your dragons on. Early in the game, you should generally keep them on "Come" because they won't have very big healing powers yet and they can get overpowered by strong enemies. (If you're up against weak ones, of course, put 'em on Go.) Later in the game, though, they start healing themselves, so putting them on "Go" may be more useful. If you see your dragons end up killing everyone before you, put them on "Wait" so you can get there first and get more experience. 8-)
Make sure NOT to let a dragon die! If a dragon dies, you lose all your special effects, including your techniques, field attacks, and the Critical/Defense/Sprinter special effects. If you see it's overpowered or getting low on HP, put it back on "Come". Do the same if you see *yourself* getting overpowered. Don't overabuse Come and Wait, though... if you have to squeeze all your characters through a narrow space and don't have many Light Armors, it might be better to put your dragons on Go! just so they don't get in the way. 8-)
Getting close to the enemy: You might notice that enemies don't move unless you're within a certain distance from them. Use this to your advantage by either a) letting your dragons on Go! attack them without worrying about them coming close to you; and/or b) letting your slower units catch up with your faster ones, and taking them all in at once.
Using terrain: You can use Terrain to your advantage during battle, but generally it's tough to do that; instead, you have to spend most of your time trying to avoid the ill effects of it. ^^; You can use bridges and such to let enemies drown or die, but I recommend against doing so, because you lose out on all the EXP, money, and items from that enemy if you do! Check out the Terrain section for more info, and especially see what I wrote about bridges and structures.
From early on, bosses drop excellent items - sometimes. If a boss is low on HP, first save your game before fighting him. If he doesn't drop an item you like, try restarting from your save and use another elemental or use a different combination of attacks to get a different item. You'll nearly always get something particularly useful if you're lucky enough and patient enough. 8-)