So lately I've gone completely crazy and put another 50 hours into FF10, knocking my totaltime to 150 hours. The main reason I call this being crazy is because it involves me fighting the dark aeons!
I still don't think I'll be able to finish them all, but I've had a damn good try.
So here's my update.
TeamFor this first set of dark Aeons, I had Tidus and Auron with their ultimate weapons and auto-phoenix/auto-haste and Yuna with her ultimate weapon. Auron and Tidus had roughly half their sphere grid (no customisation, no luck nodes activated) and Yuna had roughly a third (again, no customisation, no luck nodes activated). Nobody has break HP limit, either (in fact, at this stage, Yuna had about 5000 HP while Tidus and Auron had 9999). This can actually be a distinct advantage: if you had the HP to survive a hit that gives a bad status effect that you can't block, you have to waste another turn healing it. Since my team could never survive the hit, the status effects weren't an issue in the first place.
Why this character combination? They're the only three with ultimate weapons, so although Wakka had a better sphere grid setup than Yuna, he couldn't be used.
For the record, Yuna could do about 3000 damage a hit at this point even with the Nirvana. Later on, while grinding for some of the harder dark aeons, I also got Rikku's ultimate weapon, but she has such a tiny area of sphere grid done that it's not worth drafting her in.
Dark Valefor - Dark Ixion - Dark Ifrit I used a strategy that would probably annoy every other video game player ever, which basically involved hasting Yuna, having her permanently casting auto-life on Tidus and Tidus and Auron making very reckless attacks, getting killed and revived, then attacking again etc. etc. Overdrives are unsurvivable, so I summoned an aeon to take the hit each time. Silly strategy or not, it worked, and is an option for people who don't have great stats or overdrives (nobody was hitting 99999 damage at this point) if you're not impatient. Maybe need a bit of luck, but not much.
Dark ShivaThe strategy stopped working here, mostly as Dark Shiva got in about 3 or 4 attacks between my own, which led to lots of dying. At this point I took my party to the Omega Ruins to finish off Yuna's sphere grid (since her weapon has double AP on it, she finished hers first). This still was nowhere near enough to take on Dark Shiva, so I popped off to the Monster Arena to customise my sphere grid, and only emerged when I had 255 in all stats with Yuna (except luck, which was about 25 at the time). At this point Yuna became a main attacker in my party, since she was always hitting 99999. I also had to work on Tidus and Auron's accuracy skills which were awful, so they did some teleporting around the sphere grid to use the new custom grid as needed.
Main strategy for this fight was all my team members attacking, and blocking Dark Shiva's attacks with the aeons. The trickiest bit was dealing with her speed, which was a particular problem when she killed someone and knocked the turn order back. This was probably the hardest fight to block with aeons, since if you're unlucky and the turn order gets completely screwed, she can get one or two hits in to fill up her overdrive bar then immediately use Diamond Dust and slaughter you. Happened to me a few times!
Dark BahamutMy test fight against Dark Bahamut went pretty terribly, but at least I learned his penchant for using impulse on the fifth hit, and the fact he could petrify my characters. I got Tidus and Auron to finish up the custom sphere grid I made with Yuna (though they still didn't quite have 255 stats in some places) and got Yuna to 120 luck. (At this stage Tidus and Auron probably had about 50 and 60 when I fought him.) The idea behind this was to make me hit him more since even at 255 accuracy it wasn't quite working; I don't know if it actually did anything, but it seemed to.
Changed Yuna and Auron's accessories to ones with stoneproof on it, and customised ribbon onto Tidus' accessory. This meant I had to cast hastega at the beginning, though, as Auron had lost auto-haste and auto-phoenix. I kept auto-life on everyone since I ran into some issues with Bahamut's overdrive on several fights (largely because of the turn order), attacked four times, then summoned an aeon. When the overdrive bar was half full, I summoned my aeons that could break damage limit. The ones who couldn't got summoned when he had a full overdrive bar. I could also use the magus sisters twice, because I could dismiss them before they died invariably. This strategy means that when you start running out of aeons, you've got to start taking the hit from impulse as you need the aeons to block the overdrive more than anything. I still think I was pretty lucky beating this one when I did, since I was almost out of aeons!
If you use the "four hits then summon an aeon!" strategy you need to be watching the turn order closely. You always need Yuna to be the fifth person (even if that means making Tidus or Auron defend for a turn) and if you're unlucky and his overdrive bar fills before you get the four hits in AND on the turn indicator you can see he has a turn before you can manage to do that, you need to summon on Yuna's next turn anyway, even if it screws the strategy for a bit and you have to try and get back to the previous pattern).
Dark YojimboCustomised auto-haste and auto-protect onto a ring for Yuna this time - I'd hoped auto-protect would help me stay alive on the odd hit, but it didn't quite work out (hit was doing 10000 damage instead of 20000 but still above my health, as I still don't have break HP limit). Also got Tidus and Auron to activate all the new luck nodes I put on the sphere grid for Yuna. These fights are actually really easy as dark Yojimbo doesn't seem to learn any new skills, and I keep killing him before his overdrive bar fills. I auto-life everybody (necessary!) and use my remaining turns to attack. If someone gets hit by kozuka (except Tidus who is immune due to ribbon), which they can survive, I also have to esuna them from being petrified. I probably could have beat this guy by now - I beat him three times in a row the other day but had to turn my PS2 off, and even though I'll have to start over again I'm not bothered as I got some really nice weapon/armour drops from him so I might try and get more of those for a bit, I don't know. I've probably been having some pretty awesome luck with his attacks, though - my first try was a bit more frustrating, but then on the last few he used Kozuka a lot, which is very easy to recover from.
What's next?So when I beat this guy, it'll be dark Anima and the dark magus sisters. The dark magus sisters will be a pain, I did a test run against them to test my stat boost after I accidentally ran into them, and it wasn't very pretty. xD I guess I'll have to practise running away from them - my issue is with the graphics I can't see the path I need to walk on from the "this bit's part of the graphics and a dead end". I know, I'm dreadful.
Anyway, the dark aeons are fun. Anybody else been fighting them - or would if they had the international/PAL release? It'd be fun to compare notes.
I'm pretty proud of myself since when I started off looking things up about the dark aeons, people were always saying "break HP limit is a NECESSITY" and "must have Wakka's attack reels" - but I'm proof that you don't need them, at least with these aeons. (Although, to be fair, I have Wakka's attack reels, just not break damage limit. :P) May not be a strategy that shines and makes you look awesome, it's slow and meticulous, but it works. Also, I still think break HP limit will seriously hinder you, unless you pair it with ribbon maybe.