The Warrior and Wizard Runes give ridiculously paltry increases in STR and MAG in exchange for a huge chunk of the user's PROT and MDEF, respectively. Maybe these should be revamped in such a way that sacrificing the user's PROT and MDEF is really worth the increase in power. Why bother using Warrior Runes on your physical DD's when you can just slap DB/DS on them without having to sacrifice your PROT to gain more damage? Wizard is only really useful for stacking magic repel rate beyond what the Robe of Mist, Water Amulets, and Cyclone runes on weapons can provide, and nothing else.
I do agree that enemy HP should at least be increased, but it must be increased in such a way that the ally party will be able to defeat a full team of 6 small enemies or 2 large enemies (e.g. Copper Suns @ Cave of the Wind and the Colossus/Bronzem enemies at L'Renouille) in at least 3 turns. That way, all offensive magic spells, status spells like Wind of Sleep and Finger of Death, and status-inducing weapon runes like Sleep, Silence, Poison, and Down would be really worth using, physical DDs won't just roll over the mages in damage output. Why bother using magic when you can just Auto-Battle your way through regular battles?
In addition, maybe the enemy (and boss) levels and stats at L'Renouille should be increased in such a way that it would be unwise to tackle the final dungeon unprepared, i.e. stack your physical DDs with DB/DS/Fury, your tanks with the best armors available, and your mages with the the most suitable magic runes available to them.
Well, maybe, in general, increase the enemy levels enough so that the player would have to grind out a bit for useful rare drops like runes, magic scrolls, and armors before tackling the main dungeon in each story arc?
Very well, shall we dissect each story arc in the game, then?
- The first real main story arc basically consists of Riou, Jowy, and the Circus Trio. Recommended level vs Mist Monster in vanilla Suikoden II is at 6-7 (should be ~8). Riou and Jowy have the Buddy Attack, while the Circus Trio has their own Unite Attack. In addition, Eilie and Jowy have a B affinity to Fire (for Flaming Arrows scrolls), with Jowy having an additional B affinity in Lightning (for Angry Blow scrolls); while Rina has a Fire rune attached and a C affinity to the associated element. As suggested above, one of the Mist Monster's forms may be weaker against physicals but stronger against magic so that the Circus Unite becomes more powerful, and the other form may be weaker against magic but stronger against physicals so that players would be encouraged to have Jowy and Eilie use scrolls and Rina her Fire rune.
- The next one is the Sindar Ruins. The party consists of Riou, Jowy, Nanami, and three random characters. Recommended level vs Double-Head is at 15 (should be ~18-20 so that Riou can unlock Battle Oath and help out the physical fighters before fighting Double-Head). The physical fighters are Gengen, Shiro, Kinnison, Rikimaru, and Hanna; while the mages are Millie and Zamza (while he can be specced as a physical fighter, he will take damage from each use of his Fire Dragon rune, and his options are very limited at this point). The difficulty really steps up once the water inside the ruins is drained, as Mr. Venus deals a lot of damage with his magic, while Salamanders are fast, hit hard, always come in packs of four, and are immune to Fire, which is pretty much the only offensive magic rune in the game at that point. Maybe increase their HP by a lot but make them weaker against physical damage? Maybe make a Muse Area enemy drop Lightning and Wind runes AND/OR have Muse and the Kobold peddler at the White Deer Inn sell all the Level 1 magic scrolls in order to give players more choices other than *Fire and Flaming Arrows before the North Window Arc?
- Up next is the Highland Camp Recon Arc. Mandatory members are Riou, Jowy, and Nanami. Recommended levels are 18-22. Not particularly difficult, but high-ATK physical DD's and spells/unites that target groups are very useful here, since the mobs always come in packs, Armadillos have high defense, and the KillRabbits have high HP.
- Next is the North Window arc. Mandatory members are Riou, Nanami, Viktor, Eilie, and Freed. Recommended levels vs SDS and Abomination are 25+. This is probably the one time I would not agree to removing Double-Beat early in the game as we need something for Viktor to use (unless somehow we can improve the utterly useless Titan rune) and he's not really a mage so he can't really use the magic runes well. Eilie's and Freed's above-average Fire affinities will be of use in this arc. We might need to ramp up Freed's stats a bit (he's pretty average with LUCK as his highest stat, which isn't really of use) since we will have to use him again for the Toran arc. One notch up in all his stats except MAG and LUCK will do.
- Next is the Two River arc. Recommended level vs Pest Rat is 30+. You might need at least one "anti-boss cannon" mage with high MAG and/or affinities to Lightning. Unfortunately, only Luc and Flik have Lightning affinities of B or higher among all characters with 06 MAG (which has a good chance of getting 100 MAG at level 30) or higher at this point of the game. Rina has 06 MAG, but she only has a C affinity in Lightning; Millie has an A in Lightning while Yoshino has a B but they only have 04 MAG, which only yields a measly 75 MAG (or 6/3/1 MP) at level 30.
- Next is the Greenhill arc. Recommended level for the main battle parts should be ~35. Spells, command runes, and unite attacks that target groups are great in this stage of the game (which is why I tend to use Millie often in this arc). Fire, Wind, and Blue Gate mages are very much welcome in this arc.
- Next is the Matilda arc, coinciding with the Futch and Humphrey Recruitment Arc. Recommended level vs Harpy should be ~40. You will need a balanced party of physical DD's, mob-clearers, and anti-boss cannons (high-affinity Lightning mages with at least 05 MAG) for this stage of the game.
- Whew, it's going to be quite a while before the Toran arc. Maybe we can increase the recommended level vs. Worm to ~42-43, so that the Luca Blight battle will have a recommended level of ~45 instead of 35?
I'll be covering until the Luca Blight battle at the moment since I have work later and I need to get some sleep. I think the reason why the recommended levels are overlapped mid-game is to supposedly encourage players to try out different party setups for each arc. Problem is, options are very limited early game and so players are stuck using the same old characters every arc, which is very noticeable during the Greenhill arc, which only allow you to use youngsters, animals, and Gadget, all whom you probably have trained already during the Two River arc. By the time you get to Matilda, you will be pretty much tempted to use the same characters you used during the Greenhill Arc unless maybe you want to use Fliktor to recruit Futch and Humphrey.
I kind of understand where all these Nanami haters came from. Story-wise, sure, understandable, but I have actually seen players who don't appreciate Nanami being forced into some arcs because she is just a weaker but faster version of Riou gameplay-wise, not because she is annoying in-story. What particular mods we can make so that players would complain less if Nanami is forced into the party during specific arcs? Maybe give her a permanent *Spark so that everyone will attack after her by default, thus giving her more value to the party?
It's not all about knowledge, but it helps.