"Dragon Quest IX" - Grotto Exploring for Newbies
Greetings, my dear readers, to my 38th article!
As has become a certain habit for me recently, this article is going to be about the RPG Dragon Quest IX. More specifically, I'm going to talk about grotto exploring. You may or may not have come across these dungeons during your travels, by way of treasure maps. I'm here to explain how to get treasure maps if you haven't gotten one already. I'll also explain what your party should look like by the time you start grotto exploring.
Getting a Treasure Map
There are four ways to get a treasure map, but two of them are inaccessible until you beat the game's main boss (if you're having trouble with him, check out this article).
- Complete the quest in the Heights of Loneliness, on the screen right before Zere Rocks. The fallen man requires a special medicine. Make one via Alchemy and give it to him. He'll give you a Level 1 treasure map.
- Go talk to the king in Stornway during the post-game.
- Complete a quest received by interacting with a corpse in the island near the top right corner of the world map during the post-game (it's unreachable without the ability to fly, since it's surrounded by shoals).
- Trade maps with other players via Tag Mode.
Option #3 will actually give you a map that leads to a Legacy Boss rather than a grotto. Legacy Bosses are returning villains from previous Dragon Quest games and are just as tough as you remember them to be. I'm currently stuck on the first Legacy Boss and my party has two level 45 characters and two level 41 characters, if that's any indication of where the power curve lies there...
The First Grotto Location
Finding the Grotto
Once you acquire a treasure map, you get a new option in your Items sub-menu to see your Treasure Maps. To find a grotto, you must select a map from this menu, which will then replace the area map on the top screen of the Nintendo DS, and you must find the X, as it were. An exclamation mark will appear over your character's head when you're in the vicinity of a grotto. Press A to reveal it and then A again to enter it. The first treasure map is a freebie to find, as the location marked by the X is none other than the area close to the west of Stornway. Other treasure maps will have different locations for their X, determined by a random generator that has over 100 distinct locations in it.
Minimum Party Requirements
If you want to go grotto exploring as soon as you get that first map, and assuming you got it as soon as possible (which means you've probably just beaten Garth Goyle at Zere Rocks and are in your late teens to early twenties), I'd recommend you hold it off until your party is at a neat level 25. As you'll see, if you don't heed my advice, the problem isn't the grotto itself, it's the grotto boss at the bottom. They are much stronger than regular bosses at this stage of the game, so if you go straight to Equinox (a boss of the Beast Family which is the guaranteed boss of this first grotto as well as a possible boss in other low-level grottos), he's probably going to wipe the floor with you, and fast. Grotto bosses tend to have some nice features such as:
- Double attack (Although they sometimes don't use it, go figure!)
- Disruptive Wave (This removes all boosts and tension your party may have gotten via in-battle actions.)
- Mass attacks (Every grotto boss I know of has one of these. Whether it does 40 or 140, they have it. You probably don't have Multiheal yet, so if said boss' mass attack does enough damage, your healer is going to get out-damaged, and fast.)
So, what are some good minimum party requirements for exploring grottos?
- Your main character should be a Minstrel, with the ability to Zing.
- A tank to withstand punishment. Early on, you'll want a Warrior (for Whipping Boy), but later you'll see that Paladins have a nicer array of defensive skills and spells (not to mention a Coup de Grace that screams out defense; Knight Watch).
- A healer. I can't stress this enough. You NEED A HEALER. At the start, a Priest is all you'll have, but once you get the ability to switch into the Sage vocation, I recommend having a Sage as your healer as they're the only vocation that can Kazing. In either case, your healer should have Multiheal. Also, your healer should have points in the Wand skill tree and use a Wand, ALL THE TIME. The MP bonuses you get as you level up that skill tree are too good to pass up.
- A damage dealer. Gladiators were made for this role, but spell damage is higher at times depending on the situation, so feel free to use a Mage here. Keep in mind that your tank can also fill in as damage dealer if his HP are not needed to shield an ally that turn.
With that set up, you should be able to beat Equinox as long as you use Multiheal every turn.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Well, after you beat Equinox, you'll get a new treasure map which, according to sources online, will be leveled according to your party level (in other words, the stronger you are when you finally beat Equinox, the harder the map he will drop). So, you may consider beating the main game before you keep grotto exploring, as (in my opinion) this content is meant to be done after you complete the story. This is without mentioning that the best spot for getting quick levels (Slime Hill) is only available after you beat the game, so all signs seem to point to putting this content off until later.
That's pretty much the extent of this article, but I'll close this one with some general tips for grotto exploring:
- Always explore each floor thoroughly. Some floors in some grottos have blue chests. They don't have much in low-level grottos, but higher-level grottos should have some nice chest loot.
- Each grotto boss drops a Treasure Map the first time you beat it. Additionally, the boss has a chance of dropping one additional item as well. I've currently seen Equinox drop a Dragontail Whip (10% chance) and Vesta Gauntlets (2% chance). This will be noted in the treasure map info once you've acquired an item in particular.
- If you find a member of the metal slime family in a grotto, make sure to make a personal note somewhere so you don't forget where you saw him. From personal experience I can say that grinding these critters is much easier inside of a grotto than in other locations (including Slime Hill, depending on your luck).
- Legacy Bosses will always drop a Mini Medal upon defeat, and may drop other loot. There are other things related to Legacy Bosses that I won't touch on here, but may touch on in the future.
So, now that you have a primer for grotto exploring, I suggest you go and have fun! If you can't beat the boss, then keep advancing in the story or (if you're in post-game already) go get some levels off of Metal Slime family members.
Feel free to post in the comments section if you have any questions about this article, or if you just want to talk about Dragon Quest IX!
Until the next time, take care and have fun!