Shin Megami Tensei 4 (IV): How To Beat The Minotaur
This hub is going to talk about how to beat the Minotaur in Shin Megami Tensei 4. He is the first main boss of the game and is fought at the 5th stratum of Naraku. The Minotaur aided King Aquila in times long past, and is still honoring his vow to prevent access to the Unclean Ones. Like most Shin Megami Tensei series boss fights in general, this one is pretty hard, especially if you do not know what you are doing. Thankfully, I'm here to help. So, get to reading so you can see how you can topple this titanic beast!
Here's a helpful table listing the Minotaur's relevant stats, such as total hit points (HP), weaknesses and strengths, and attack list.
Attack List (not including basic attack)
Nulls Fire/Light/Dark, Weak to Ice
Resists Poison/Sleep/Panic/Bind/Sick, Nulls Lost
Labrys Strike, War Cry, Charge/Oni-Kagura (Added when at half HP)
Let's Talk Strategy - Tips and Tricks
Minotaur is meant to be a brick wall to people who have yet to learn how to use and abuse the Press Turn to their own advantage. At a hefty level of 14, you most likely will be underleveled by the time you face off against this giant Beast. Additionally, the Minotaur has three Press Turns to work with every single turn. However, Shin Megami Tensei has yet another lesson to teach you: Just because you are underleveled doesn't mean that you can't win. You'll just have to get more creative:
- Your protagonist needs Bufu. You need to get those extra Press Turns. This is non-negotiable. Matter of fact, try to use Demon Fusion to get Bufu on your entire team if at all possible (although this may be overkill and non-essential, for reasons I'll elaborate on in the following bullets).
- Sukunda is godly for this fight, if you can be bothered to grind up to level 13 and fuse a Poltergeist (or take levels in the app that increases your effective fusion level). If you are unable to beat the Minotaur, Sukunda may tip the scales in your favor.
- For similar reasons, Sukukaja is awesome. The pair of Suku- spells influence hit and evasion rates. Sukunda lowers the enemy's rates and Sukukaja increases your party's rates. This is so awesome because Misses cost you a Press Turn. So, if you can get the Minotaur to miss more often, you can dull his assault. This is especially important once you have him past the halfway mark and he adds Oni-Kagura and Charge to his possible moves. Likewise, not missing prevents you from prematurely running out of Press Turns on your turn.
- Rakukaja comes recommended since you won't dodge every hit (oh, if only). Also, the Minotaur's War Cry will lower your entire party's attack and defense, so you'll want to counteract the defense half of that at least (you could bring a demon with Tarukaja as well, but lower attack only means a longer fight, and the Minotaur is actually fairly easy when you neuter his ability to actually hit you and damage you).
- My protagonist had Bufu, Rakunda, Rakukaja, Dia, Agi and Zio when I fought the Minotaur. Given that Agi is useless against the Minotaur and you really want to be getting Press Turns whenever possible, you could probably wing it with just the first four skills if you don't want to level up the Skill Expansion app for the protagonist (I highly recommend it though).
- A demon with Media comes highly recommended. Labrys Strike can hit up to 3 times, but it can hit one demon thrice (this will probably kill said demon unless they happen to be Physical resistant or you have gotten some stacks of Rakukaja already), or it can hit any combination of demons. So, if three of your party members get hit, you can just heal off most of the damage with one Media, instead of having to cast 3 Dias (which you really don't have the time to be doing).
General Battle Flow
The problem with a lot of Shin Megami Tensei 4's harder fights is the Press Turn system itself. Now, don't get me wrong: I love that system. I feel that it's very dynamic for what is a turn-based game and really makes most fights go faster. However, the fact that you can gain Press Turns by landing Criticals makes the initial portion of the Minotaur fight an exercise in luck-based gameplay. See, there's always a chance that he'll get the first turn in combat, which allows him to use War Cry to lower your party's defense and then two Labrys Strikes in a row (which, if you survive that sequence, I'd like for you to pass me some of your luck!). That is assuming he doesn't land a Critical on either of those Labrys Strikes. Eep!
Really, to even survive against the Minotaur, the first few turns need to look like this:
- Turn 1: Your party wins initiative. You get extra Press Turns via the use of Bufu with your party members without buffing spells, while your buffers with Rakukaja or Sukukaja use them as appropriate. You'll want to get at least two stacks of Rakukaja up since the Minotaur is quick to use War Cry as his first battle action.
- Minotaur's Turn 1: The Minotaur will War Cry once and attack normally twice. This is pretty much the best enemy turn 1 you can hope for. I've seen War Cry, Labrys Strike, War Cry which is arguably even worse than the War Cry, 2x Labrys Strike Turn 1 since it sets you up for a slower and nearly as inevitable death.
- Turn 2: You should have one stack of Rakukaja up. Get that up to the max of +3, while pressing the attack with Bufu and healing injuries with your Media user.
- Minotaur's Turn 2: At this point, he'll probably use a combination of attacks and Labrys Strikes. As you can imagine, the more regular attacks the better.
- Turn 3: By this time, you're either dead or pretty much on autopilot (if the former, you should reload). Make sure your evasion and defense parameters are as high as possible with the appropriate -kaja spells and start using Sukunda/Tarunda if you have demons that can do so.
Basically, if the Minotaur lands too many criticals, you're going to be in trouble. If the Minotaur's Labrys Strikes are frequently focusing down one of your party members, you're going to be in trouble. It's a really unforgiving fight in that respect, but keeping in mind my tips will hopefully allow you to beat him in a timely manner.
A Samurai's Companion
Isabeau, Jonathan and Walter become semi-permanent fixtures as unofficial fifth members of your party after you finish the tutorial quests. This means that one of the three will join you in your fight against the Minotaur. If you're not adverse to reloading just to get a specific companion, Isabeau will probably be your best choice as she can cast Bufu. Jonathan is passable (Zan) and Walter is actually a handicap (as the Minotaur will block his Agi spells and may get a Smirk bonus out of it as well; Walter also has a nasty tendency of using Critical Wave which tends to be somewhat inaccurate).
Taming the Beast - Conversation Options
One thing that surprised me the first time I fought the Minotaur (what, did you truly believe I beat him the first time around?) was the fact that you get conversation options at certain points of the fight. Specifically:
(When the Minotaur is roughly at around 70% HP) - The Minotaur tests your will in the form of a question.
Answering that you are determined to win will buff up the protagonist's Attack by one level (the same effect as casting Tarukaja once)
(When the Minotaur is roughly at around 40% HP) - The Minotaur will ask if the Samurai have any limits.
Answering that the Samurai have no limits will dishearten the Minotaur, debuffing his hit/evasion rates as per one casting of Sukunda.
When the Minotaur is almost dead (about 20% HP left), Jonathan will praise the Minotaur for loyally honoring his pact with King Aquila for so long and promises to finish him with the utmost respect.
Given that this is only the first boss, there aren't any specific demons that I would consider essential. If you could somehow grind up a Lham Dearg all the way to about Level 12, he would probably deserve a spot on the team, but there's not much he can actually do against the Minotaur on his own skill-wise. Basically, just make sure you have a demon that can cast Media, a demon that can cast Sukukaja/Rakukaja, and the more party members that can cast Bufu the better. -unda spells (especially Tarunda and Sukunda) are icing on the cake and will make the fight much easier, but are not completely obligatory.
Were you (your protagonist character) Under or Over Leveled for this Battle?
As you can see, the Minotaur serves as a hefty roadblock where the game developers have essentially said "the kiddie gloves come off now". It takes a fair amount of strategy and no small amount of luck to carry the day, but I can guarantee that the feeling of satisfaction that you will get when you finally topple this beast will be awesome. Just don't breathe too easily, as there are many more demons where he came from!
Feel free to post your own strategies for beating the Minotaur in the comments section, as well as demons you prefer for the task and why. Or, just feel free to talk about the game as well (try to limit spoilers).
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)