Having beaten the Nightmare Arena DLC, I thought I’d write a general guide on helpful strategies and approaches for how to tackle the various cups, since I had to struggle through it unassisted.
I won’t break down each specific battle, as my overall strategy should be sufficient for you to apply any specific changes and work through it yourself.
- Nate and his Inn Skill are the MVP of this challenge. On Nate’s first turn cast the Inn spell on the most dangerous or annoying enemy (it can be based on an effect they cause, damage output, etc.). Focus your attacks on the 2nd most dangerous enemy, ignoring what the third one is up to (some battles don’t have 3 enemies). Put the annoying enemy back to sleep as needed. Once you’re down to only one enemy, you’re pretty much bullying them at that point.
- An effective way to neutralize a hazardous status effect is by preventing it completely. The item shop sells a variety of accessories that will block statuses such as poison, burning, or sleep. This seemed especially prominent in the Sapphire and Emerald Cups. I would have each party member equip the same status-blocking item (usually warding off sleep), which would neutralize the threat of one of the enemies. Then I could utilize my routine strategy without having to worry about what otherwise would have been a serious threat.
- Whatever weaknesses and resistances enemies have in their normal form will apply to their nightmare rendition. Otherwise, all you need to know is pretty much included in the one or two sentence summary.
- I wouldn’t use too many potions during attempts in this mode, at least not until the late game, when you have an abundance of gold. You’ll often be low on gold if you’re buying all the new weapons, skills, and gear.
Basic Set-Ups for Each Cup
Basic Cup – Thankfully, this cup is the one with the most enemies to face, as I was surprised how many rounds I had to clear before it was finally over. You have the least amount of resources available, but that also means you aren’t expected to do anything too crazy to win either. Due to the Gloops, which resist physical damage, you’ll want to equip one character with the wand. The other two weapons don’t matter as much. Personally, I equipped Nate with the wand, Tator with the spear, and Aru with the boomerang. Later on, I found the dagger or bow to be a better choice for Tator. I also gave Tator the fire spell, Nate the Inn spell, and Aru the healing spell, raising the whole party to level 5. Fight carefully, and you should finish this one without much headache.
Topaz Cup – Raise the entire party to level 7, and equip each member with the topaz weapon of your choice, along with their copper shields. You’ll have enough points to give each member a second spell too. For me, I added Tator’s water spell, Nate’s frying pan attack, and Aru’s ice spell. The accessories won’t be that important, but feel free to pick whatever seems best with what you have available.
Sapphire Cup – Rinse, wash, and repeat: get everyone to level 12, sapphire weapons, and iron shields. I didn’t change my spells this time either, but accessories were more relevant in this cup to fend off too many status effects from stacking up. Something I didn’t know initially is that you can’t put the sheep to sleep, which is why I gave everyone an accessory to negate that effect.
Emerald Cup – Raise everyone to level 18, emerald weapons, and silver shields. Sadly, I didn’t really notice a theme or focus from this round. It seemed like a more concentrated version of the last one, with status effects mattering so much. By this point, my selection of spells and accessories was increasing nicely, so I had more options on how to set up my party. I wouldn’t expect this to be much of a stumbling block for anyone.
Ruby Cup – Raise everyone to level 21, ruby weapons, and gold shields. The main priority for this round is from enemies using attacks that hit the whole party. Since they all have an elemental focus, you can give each party member an accessory to reduce the damage from one of the enemies’ attacks. By this point, you should have the item that lets one party member start the battle with a critical. What I would do is equip it to someone with a spell that’ll exploit one of the enemies’ weaknesses for a solid attack right at the start of the fight. With one enemy asleep, your party resistant against the damage of the enemy you’ll kill second, and one enemy being hit hard at the onset, none of these battles should be too challenging for you. Except for…
The Final Challenge
This is the exception where I will explain the specific strategy I used to beat the battle, and that’s because this is a very tough boss fight. Something that the description points out is that the enemy uses strong magic attacks, so magic defense is especially important here. I equipped Tator with the ruby bow, Nate got the ruby wand, and Aru had the ruby boomerang, as each give some amount of magic defense. Then I gave each character a heavy gold shield, primarily for the extra HP. That’ll be important later. The last matching item I gave everyone was an accessory to increase magic defense. A helpful item for Tator was an accessory to increase the duration of status debuff magic, as that was his primary focus. Since Nate was my primary source of healing, I increased the effectiveness of his regen and healing spells. Then I had Aru keep the increased chance for earning criticals.
You’ll have enough XP to give each character 4 spells, good accessories, and should get an extra level or two above the previous ruby battles. For my strategy, these were the essential spells for each character. Tator needs the spell to decrease the enemy’s magic attack power and increase a party member’s attack power. I also had him slow down the enemy’s turns and reduce magic defense, but I wouldn’t say those spells were essential. For Nate, his required spells were his wind magic attack and his potions, with the mod to cast it on everyone with a critical. On Aru, I found her essential spells to be the Critical theft, haste, and healing in case of emergencies. I also gave her healing spell the mod to be cast on everyone with a critical.
Starting off the fight, it’s vital that Tator drop the enemy’s magic attack power. With your magic defense in place from the equipment you set up, the HP boost, and the enemy’s magic attack power always being reduced, each party member can survive 2 attacks without healing. From that point forward, I have Tator maintain status debuffs, as that’s his main goal. I occasionally have Aru cast haste on everyone, though I find Tator to be the least important character to speed up. Nate uses his criticals to cast potion regens on the party and do magic damage against the boss.
For the first phase of the fight, your goal is to reduce the enemy’s HP to half. By the point their HP is around 8,000 and almost near the target of 7,500 you’ll want to have these effects in place. You’ll want everyone to have potion regen on with a good amount of turns left, Nate should have a critical saved up, and Tator should boost Nate’s magic attack power. Once the enemy’s HP is below 7,500 it will change forms and remove any debuffs from itself, and you can’t reapply them while it’s in this form. However, with everything set up properly, Nate’s magic attack should do more than 1,000 points of damage. It might be necessary for Tator to use a critical for the magic attack increase spell, just to be positive. Having two characters attack in the same turn for more than 1,000 damage won’t count, so that’s why this set-up is necessary. If you cannot do 1,000 damage from one attack, the boss will one-shot your party.
Now, we go into the second phase of the fight, as the enemy starts off with a fresh health bar. Hopefully, your party will have a decent set-up during the transition, but otherwise you’ll set up the same debuffs and effects as you did for the first round. After all, not that much changes. Have Tator reduce the magic damage of the boss, keep up your auto regen, slow down the enemy so their attacks are delayed, and you should have plenty of HP throughout the fight. If necessary, Aru can heal with her magic, or you can always use some potions. When possible, have Aru steal those crits so the boss’ attacks are less potent. Occasionally, the boss can put one of your party members to sleep for 10 rounds, but as long as you’re maintaining a good set-up, it shouldn’t make much difference.
With 18,000 HP, the most important parts of the battle is when its HP drops to 12,000 and 6,000. At that time, it’ll announce that it’s going to do a mega attack, and your only chance to survive is to snag the invulnerable candy during the mini-game. Here’s how it works for both iterations, and the second phase is not any more difficult than the first. In the background, 3 cups will be placed over 2 pumpkins and the candy you want. You have to keep track of where the candy is located during the next handful of turns, as it’ll slowly change positions. If you choose the wrong bucket, you won’t get the candy, and won’t be able to protect yourself against the one-shot party wipe. This sounds daunting, but I realized something. During those turns, the boss doesn’t do anything. So, you can keep your eyes focused on the candy, and merely spam regular attacks. Nothing else is as important, so although you’ll want to keep up status debuffs and so forth, it’s not worth having to start the battle all over again. At most, try not to waste your crits on regular attacks. After a few turns, he’ll announce it’s time to find the candy. Have your character launch a regular attack against the correct bucket, and it’s yours.
When you have the candy in your inventory, the boss will appear on the timeline with a red outline. That’s when he’s going to launch his one-shot party wipe. What you need to do is set up at least one character to be ready to choose their action 2 turns before then. Instead of just choosing attacks or moves haphazardly, I’d set Aru up to be that party member. On her next turn, make her attack, and line it up so that her proceeding phase will be in the correct spot. On that crucial turn, go to your inventory, choose the candy, and activate it. It’ll show on the timeline that eating the candy will take place on the next turn, one turn before the boss attack. My mistake was trying to eat the candy on the turn just before the attack, but that was too late. Once you’ve set up the proper equipment and routine, the trickiest part of the battle is avoiding these one-shots. Otherwise, you just survive, continually whittle down the enemy’s HP, and win.