Exdeath is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy V. The party engages him twice in his normal form. The first battle is scripted and fought only with Galuf, while the second battle is an actual boss battle in the last floor of his castle at the climax of Galuf's World.
Defeating him in his castle earns the achievement "Mwa-hahahaha!".
Forest of Moore
This battle is fought with Galuf alone who cannot die even when his HP drops to 0. It is impossible to lose unless intentionally zombifying or petrifying Galuf. The Blue Magic spell Self-Destruct will also end the battle immediately.
Under normal circumstances, the battle will proceed once Exdeath has taken 7000 damage. After this, Galuf must deal damage three more times to end the battle. He cannot be hasted during this battle.
Exdeath is weak to Holy. He is also susceptible to Slow status; however, if the Time Magic spells Slow or Slowga are cast against him, he will react by casting Haste on himself immediately. He will also occasionally react to receiving physical damage by casting Dispel against any party member with active positive statuses like Haste.
Exdeath has multiple phases. In his first phase, he will attack with the following abilities:
- Normal physical attack
- Blue Magic Doom, which inflicts Doom status on one party member, killing them after 30 seconds.
- Vacuum Wave, which deals 1.5x his normal physical attack damage and inflicts Sap.
- Reverse Polarity, which swaps the row positions of the entire party.
- 100 Gs, which removes Float status from the whole party.
- Time Magic Gravity, which halves the current HP of one party member.
- Earth Shaker, which deals Earth damage to the whole party.
- Blaze, which deals 1/4 of max HP Fire damage to the whole party.
- Hurricane, which puts one party member to single digit HP if it works.
- Zombie Breath, which deals random non-elemental damage to the party, and causes Zombie if anyone dies from the attack.
- Black Magic Bio, which deals Poison damage and inflicts Sap.
- Blue Magic Level 3 Flare, which deals heavy non-elemental damage to any party member whose level is divisible by 3.
When Exdeath's HP falls below 16,000, he will swap to using his normal physical, Vacuum Wave, and the three third-tier elemental Black Magic spells:
- Firaga deals heavy Fire damage.
- Blizzaga deals heavy Ice damage.
- Thundaga deals heavy Lightning damage.
During this phase, Exdeath may take two actions per one of his turns.
On GBA/PSX/SNES releases, when Exdeath's HP falls below 7,000, he continues to use the same attacks as the second phase, but adds the Time Magic Meteor, which deals four randomly targeted hits of random damage. However, he will no longer take two actions per turn.
On mobile/Steam releases, Exdeath has no third phase, and stays on his second phase for the remainder of the fight.
Before entering the battle, Flame Rings should be equipped on everyone if available. The Ice Shield, Aegis Shield and/or Flame Shield should also be distributed amongst party members. This will allow the negation and absorption of Exdeath's spells during his second and third phases.
At the start of the battle, the party should cast Hastega and summon Golem immediately. If Exdeath uses 100 Gs to remove Float status, it should be refreshed as soon as possible, as there is a high chance he will quickly follow up with Earth Shaker. Regen is also a useful Time Magic spell to buff the party with as it counters the Sap ailment. Any characters that are knocked out should be revived immediately.
Blue Magic has several options against Exdeath:
- Level 2 Old works against Exdeath, gradually reducing his level and making his normal attack and Vacuum Waves do less and less damage, as well as slow down his turns.
- Level 3 Flare is one of the party's strongest available attacks. Do not use this in conjunction with Level 2 Old, as Exdeath aging will cause Level 3 Flare to miss.
- Goblin Punch can be used as a replacement attack command to avoid triggering Exdeath's Dispel reactions. Goblin Punch can be powered up by equipping the Excalipoor. Dual-wielding will also greatly increase Goblin Punch damage.
The Excalipoor can also be thrown for heavy damage.
Exdeath's weakness to Holy can be difficult to take advantage of, due to the scarcity of Holy element attacks. One possible way is to break Staves of Light, which casts Holy. The staves can be farmed by slaying Metamorphs in Ghido's Cave.
Zeninage, Jump, Mineuchi, Mug, Aim and Rapid Fire are great ways to physically attack without triggering the Dispel reaction. Rapid Fire attacks can also use the Blood Sword for added survivability and deals good damage for an underlevelled party.
Any low level party can greatly increase their damage output by mixing Samson's Might or Dragon Power. Temporary level boosting strategies should choose one attacker and have one or two members using Mix on the attacker repeatedly, in order to speed up their power increases.
When Exdeath switches to his second phase, Carbuncle can be summoned to reflect Exdeath's magic back against him for added damage and protection.
On mobile/Steam releases, the enemy abilities Blaze and Lightning are spell accuracy moves instead of automatically hitting, and the comparatively low levelled dragons against the high levelled Exdeath will miss their skills almost all the time. Even inflicting Level 2 Old will not improve the accuracy of the dragon releases, which makes Catch/Release strategies nonviable.
Behind the scenes
The enemy ability known as Resploder in the PS version and Chain Detonation in the GBA version, is named ゆうばく in Japanese. It may have been intended to be a special attack (as it appears in the attack lists for Ramuh, Catoblepas, Sekhmet, Sandworm, Exdeath's normal and tree forms, Archeoaevis, Gilgamesh, and Wendigo), but it is just a normal physical attack. Crystal Dragon has it as a Catch/Release ability, but when used as a Release it acts the same as a normal Attack. The ability was removed (at least from Crystal Dragon) in the iOS version.