Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System – Jobs Guide

I’ve come to the conclusion that this game is just not worth min/maxing. It doesn’t implement the mechanics necessary to contrast what’s ‘best’ from what’s not. The general consensus seems to be that anything works and that it is more about knowing what items (and when) to go after and weaknesses/gimmicks in certain bosses than team comp or stats. It’s a shame because I’ve really enjoyed learning the intricacies of the game, but enjoyable =/= worthwhile. If anyone wants to expand on this pseudoguide, feel free to use our writeups and/or what’s done so far. It should be up here for a while. Special thanks to Eva and Ant. 
See ya guys around the board, 
dnd.
Jobs
 
When assigning roles, know that each job has a particular stat gain through licenses and a specific skill-set. Also, each character has different initial stats, which might or might not max out by level 99 when you add level-ups, licenses and gear bonuses. Lastly, characters have innate abilities, regardless of what job you choose for them. These three things factored in together add to the simple fact that some characters are better at certain jobs (or certain aspects of a job) than others. Vaan and Ashe are somewhat of an exception to this, in that almost every job fits them due to their particularly good/balanced stats. Thus, in most teams, they tend to take the jobs no one else would be able to efficiently cover.
 
Along with each job, we provide the order from best to worst for how each character fares, overall, in them. This does not take into account the final party composition (i.e.: picking the best available character for each job won’t necessarily yield the best teams)
 
Archer [Basch > Vaan > Ashe > Penelo > Balthier > Fran]
Uses bows and light armor. Best in-battle item usage through lores. Decent long-range damage. Provides elemental damage through special ammo. Provides magic breaks. Draws from STR + SPD for damage.
 
Black Mage [Ashe > Penelo > Fran > Vaan > Balthier > Basch]
Uses staves and mystic armor. Best offensive spell-casting. Staves boost elemental magic damage. 
 
Breaker [Fran > Vaan > Balthier > Penelo > Ashe > Basch]
Uses hammers, axes, shields and heavy armor. High (inconsistent) physical damage. Provides all four breaks. No magic, with the [random] exception of Shades of Black. Draws from VIT + STR for damage. Lacks item lores.
 
Hunter / Shikari [Vaan > Balthier > Basch > Fran > Ashe > Penelo]
Uses daggers, ninja swords, shields and light armor. Potentially fastest job. High comboability. Good evasion-tanking. Can provide protective White Magic in late game. Draws from STR + SPD for damage.
 
Knight [Vaan > Ashe > Fran > Balthier > Penelo > Basch]
Uses swords, shields and heavy armor. Provides good physical damage and sturdy defense. Provides curative magic in late game. Draws from STR for damage but needs MAG for White Magic. Below average speed due to a sole Swiftness license.
 
Machinist [Fran > Basch > Ashe > Vaan > Balthier > Penelo]
Uses guns and light armor. Slowest attack charge time. Weapon damage doesn’t scale with stat gains. Provides assorted Time Magic. Doesn’t draw from any stats.
 
Monk [Vaan > Ashe > Fran > Penelo > Balthier > Basch]
Uses poles and light armor. Average damage. Excellent health and decent evasion. Provides physical breaks. Provides curative and protective magic in late game. Draws from STR for damage but needs MAG for White Magic.
 
Red Mage [Ashe > Penelo > Fran > Vaan > Balthier > Basch]
Uses maces, shields and mystic armor. Moderate physical damage. Provides wide assortment of White and Black Magic. Provides exclusive access to Arcane Magic. Draws from MAG for damage (plus STR if you choose Greatswords through Espers). 
 
Samurai / Mononofu [Ashe > Vaan > Penelo > Fran > Basch > Balthier]
Uses katanas, mystic armor and Genji gear. Highest comboability via katanas. Provides good [random] Black Magic through Shades of Black. Draws from STR + MAG for damage.
 
Time Mage [Ashe > Fran > Vaan > Basch > Balthier > Penelo]
Uses bowguns and heavy armor. Average damage and high speed. Provides status effects through special ammo. Provides complete access to Time Magic. Provides magical breaks through Espers. Draws from STR for damage.
 
Uhlan [Ashe > Penelo > Vaan > Fran > Basch > Balthier]
Uses spears and heavy armor. Excellent physical damage. Provides physical breaks through Espers. Provides limited and poor access to Black Magic. Low magic damage. Draws from STR for damage.
 
White Mage [Vaan > Balthier > Fran > Basch > Ashe > Penelo]
Uses rods and mystic armor. Excellent damage against the (prominent) Undead type. Best defensive spell-casting. 
 
Ashe, Penelo and Fran all have innate Cure. Vaan, Balthier and Fran have innate Steal. Basch has innate Libra. Vaan and Basch have the highest STR and HP, Ashe the highest MAG and Fran the highest VIT. With all of that in mind, a familiar pattern to prioritize picks for each job is generally as follows:
 
Steal and HP on tank / healer > > High-tier curative magic if no White Mage > Cure on non-White Mage > STR on physical damage > MAG or HP depending on job
 
Steal takes precedence over Cure since, in most setups, other curative options open up as the game progresses. Wearability of Heavy Armor (or Genji, in the case of the Samurai) means eventually guaranteed 99 STR for every character except for Fran and Penelo as Samurai. Similarly, wearing Mystic Armor translate as 99 MAG in endgame. For Samurai, MAG becomes the tiebreaker because of the reliance of early-game Shades of Black plus the added damage katanas draw from it, whereas Monk and Knight benefit from the added healing it provides. Lastly, HP makes an important contribution on the naturally less sturdy jobs like White and Black Mage.
 
Singling them out on a case-by-case basis, out of all the jobs, Machinist and Time Mage are arguably the weakest. Machinist’s main flaw is that guns don’t draw from any stat to calculate damage: a huge advantage in Weak Mode games; a huge disadvantage in a normal game. On top of that, the tediously long charging times makes them a hard job to sell. Comparatively, the Time Mage is a lot more viable although still restricted in utility: Time Magic in general is not as useful in IZJS as it was in previous games. Time Mages are a good alternative if you want a bit more physical-based / supportive role instead of the spell slinging Red/Black/White mages.
 
For the physical jobs, there are two approaches to damage output. Jobs like Uhlan or Knight might have very high single-hit damage, while jobs like Samurai or Hunter favor comboability. The chances for a combo to happen are built into each individual weapon, thus some endgame weapons have a comparatively much higher chance than others. The bottom line is that  higher numbers at any one point in the game do not equal higher DPS in a job vs. job scenario. Jobs that start out as mediocre physical damage dealers, might turn out to be lawn-mowers in the mid-to-late game.
 
Also keep in mind gearing, considering that Genji gloves radically enhance combat capabilities for Samurais, Breakers and (less effectively) Knights. Accessories too can drastically alter some of the aspects of certain jobs. It’s important that you have a mental map of how gear is going to get distributed in your team beforehand, given that some valuable pieces come in limited amounts and might leave some members in your team underperforming in suboptimal garments.
 
Favorite combinations from experienced players
 
As previously stated, all of these teams are standalone, single units. You can beat the game from beginning to end plus all optional content plus trial mode with these combos in what’s considered to be the most efficient ways of fulfilling the aforementioned criteria. Whether you want to use the same team with the same three characters for the entirety of the game or level up two teams as you go along, the below combinations should provide a solid alternative to making your own team from scratch.
 
The [bracketed] characters indicate the top picks for each respective job in that given setup. Once again, if you want to keep the jobs and use a different character, you’re free to do so but remember that you might give up valuable innate abilities or stat-maxing.
 
TEAM PULP! (Pathetic Utility. Ludicrous Pain!)
Uhlan [Basch] + Black Mage [Penelo] +  White Mage [Balthier]
Knight [Vaan] + Breaker [Fran] + Red Mage [Ashe]
Credited to EVA_ZERO. This setup trades in utility for violence. Limited item lores means that you can’t rely on popping Phoenix Down consistently. The flipside is that the offensive power of this team is unmatched. All breaks, full access to all magic sans not-so-useful Time, buckets of Holy damage and flyer control make both halves of this party as scary as they come.
 
TEAM COMRA (Cult of Monk, Red Mage and Archer)
Monk [Vaan] + Archer [Basch] + Red Mage [Fran] 
Uhlan [Penelo] + Samurai [Ashe] + White Mage [Balthier]
Credited to ZekuMusashi. Stealing tank, excellent survivability, decent physical damage, ability to hit flyers, full breaks coverage, excellent access to White Magic, excellent item usage and access to Black and Arcane magic makes the first team one of the most well-rounded combinations you can come up with. An interesting, albeit gimmicky, synergy comes with comboing Oil + Firaga/Ardor + Fiery Arrows for silly multiplicative Fire damage. The second trio packs a stealing healer, which means he’ll usually get the tanking done as well, in turn allowing the other two to proc 100% HP effects and focus on offense, full access to curative magic as early as possible, good [random] offensive magic through Shades of Black, excellent physical damage and physical breaks.
TEAM ZEN
Monk [Vaan] + Samurai [Ashe] + Time Mage [Fran]
Credited to ZekuMusashi. Similarly to the first team, it’s all about prioritizing versatility over specialization. Innate Cure on two members paired with the Monk’s beefiness makes survival easy breezy until Vaan can pick up healing duties later on. Still the [randomized] strong magic offense Samurai provides, plus a third source of decent physical damage, status affliction, Haste and Berserk, all provided by Time Mage. A bit more of an acquired taste but you’re still covering most bases.
 
TEAM LONGINUS
Hunter [Balthier] + Uhlan [Basch] + White Mage [Fran]
Credited to Archantagonist. A simple, straightforward team: Uhlan sticks his spear in the baddies’ eye while White Mage protects and cures. Uhlan can hit flyers, bring the physical breaks, item support and Holy damage. White Mage does the healing, the stealing and the undead spanking. Choosing Basch means active Libra, as well. Hunter is there for flavor and to round off the already powerful duo with decent tanking, another Steal and exploiting elemental weaknesses.
 
TEAM HOLIER THAN JAYSIS
Knight [Balthier] + Uhlan [Basch] + Time Mage [Ashe]
Credited to Archiantagonist. A physical powerhouse. Going with Knight means that you’ll use his versatility for support, heal or damage depending on the situation. Versus Undead, properly geared Knight + Uhlan is excellent (eventually Holy) damage. Time Mage seals the deal with buffs and status ailments, Uhlan adds physical breaks.
 
TEAM EVEN HOLIER THAN HOLIER THAN JAYSIS
Knight [Balthier] + Uhlan [Basch] + White Mage [Fran]
Credited to EVA_ZERO. This team is too holy for your shirt. You can afford to go with a low magic power Knight like Balthier or Basch since the healing is taken care of by the WM. Undead just roll over and… die AGAIN at the sight of all your holy might! That, and Balthier pimp style Excalibur wielding ftw!!
 
TEAM DELTA
Breaker [Fran] + Black Mage [Penelo] + White Mage [Vaan]
Credited to Vespertine. The holy trinity. Plain, yet incredibly effective setup. No hybrids means everyone is the best at what they do. Breaker fills the blank incredibly well thanks to his unidimensional physical damage-dealing plus gives Black Mage breaks to work with. Hunter instead of Breaker provides Libra, which this team lacks (unless you spend Cuchulainn on the White Mage) plus solid evasion-tanking going.
 
! BELOW THIS LINE, THE STUFF NO ONE CARES ABOUT !
 
To-do

  • Decide on where the bar is: any combo works? What makes it not work? What defines ‘best’?

 

  • Change ‘building around top picks’ to all viable (EVA’s “goes well with” ) 3s and 6s for each job? Cuts down vs all possible combinations but covers a wider spectrum than just one specific char + job combo. Also possible to shrink down to an easier to read format. This + best picks per job would make ‘make your own optimal team’ very easy.

 

  • Get rid of the stuff no one wants to read or move it somewhere else (will get to it eventually)

 
Note for GameFaqs people. The idea here is to compile the absolute best, most accurate advice for IZJS, mostly focusing in team building. For a lot of you, it’s gonna be beating a dead horse into the ground, but I’m new to the game and I find myself not being able to let go of how many incongruencies there are in min/maxing discussion. More importantly (for me!) I can’t even start the game till I figure these things out so I’ll try to finish it. Yes, I’m retarded like that. If it amounts to anything, I might make it into a proper guide and post it on the site.
 
There’s a chatbox if someone else is online by clicking “other viewers” (top right), if you’re interested!
 
Teams
 
Guidelines
 
When making a team, you want to look at several different things. First and foremost, you should try and cover as many different aspects of battle as possible, lest you struggle with some of the endgame content. This means physical damage, magic damage, defense, protective magic, curative magic, item usage, status affliction, dealing with flyers, stealing/poaching and breaks. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your team needs to be able to excel at everything. For instance, if you were to make use of a Red Mage in your team, one might argue that a Black or White Mage would be redundant with the hybrid Red Mage already fulfilling both roles, albeit at an average level.
The main idea is to cover as much as possible, as well as possible, overlapping as little as possible, leaving as few gaps as possible.
 
Naturally, due to the limitations in the job specializations and the amount of members an active team can have, oftentimes you’ll need to make compromises or forsake certain capabilities altogether.
 
Section below is meant to be a resource for anyone to just take a quick glance, choose an initial (possibly only the really good picks) char-job combo they’d  like, and end up with most optimized 3-man or 6-man variant for that choice. If anyone has a better idea than just listing each combination manually, do speak up!
Building around top picks(WIP)
 
Below we mention particularly noteworthy combinations of characters and jobs that you might want to build your team around. Naturally, some of the combinations resolve in a stronger overall setup than others. Note two variants: one for 3-man teams where the remaining three characters can fill in whatever role (if any) you’d like; the other for 6-man teams where you can independently use both teams at relatively equal effectiveness. Also keep in mind that you can switch characters for 3-mans while keeping the job if, say, you don’t like a certain character aesthetics, but these options are optimal makeups based on stats, Espers and Steal availability. Any changes you make will render that specific team suboptimal.
 
Vaan
as Monk

  • 3s
  • Archer Basch
  • Red Mage Ashe
  • 6s
  • Archer Basch
  • Red Mage Penelo


  • Uhlan Fran
  • Samurai Ashe
  • White Mage Balthier

 
Penelo
as Black Mage

  • 3s
  • Uhlan Vaan
  • White Mage Balthier
  • 6s
  • Uhlan Basch
  • White Mage Fran


  • Monk Vaan
  • Samurai Ashe
  • Hunter Balthier


as Red Mage

  • 3s
  • Monk Vaan
  • Archer Basch
  • 6s
  • (See Vaan’s Monk 6s)


Balthier
as Hunter

  • 3s
  • Monk Vaan
  • Samurai Ashe
  • 6s
  • (See Penelo’s BM 6s)


as White Mage

  • 3s
  • Uhlan Vaan
  • Samurai Ashe
  • 6s
  • (See Vaan’s Monk 6s)

 
Fran
as Breaker

  • 3s
  • Uhlan Ashe
  • White Mage Vaan
  • 6s
  • Hunter Vaan
  • Red Mage Penelo

           

  • Uhlan Basch
  • White Mage Balthier
  • Black Mage Ashe

 
Basch
as Archer

  • 3s
  • Knight Vaan
  • Red Mage Ashe
  • 3b
  • Breaker Fran
  • White Mage Vaan
  • 6s
  • (See Vaan’s Monk 6s)

 
Ashe
as Samurai

  • 3s
  • Uhlan Vaan
  • White Mage Balthier
  • 6s
  • (See Vaan’s Monk 6s)

 
as Knight

  • 3s
  • Breaker Fran
  • Red Mage Penelo

 

  • 6s
  • Hunter Vaan
  • Red Mage Penelo

           

  • Breaker Fran
  • Archer Basch
  • White Mage Balthier


Foreword
 
Party makeup is not exactly important in this game. Due to how the game is presented, the nonlinearity of it and the ability to more or less adjust the grind to your needs, it’s safe to say that you can pretty much choose whatever and still beat most of the game. You might have problems with certain bosses if you choose to run certain combos, true. However, Final Fantasy games ride a lot more on equipment and items than jobs and skills. You don’t -need- anything in particular to eventually beat 100% of the game other than some hours to sit down with it, so if you’re here just because most RPGs have taught you that poor character building is mercilessly punished down the line, know it’s not the case here. Turn on your PS2 and go play some.
 
That out of the way, the combinations for your party and the intricacies around the process are numerous and, as a new player, it might be hard to decide on what you want to get out of that seemingly insignificant choice. Simultaneously, some players just need to make these choices with efficiency in mind. That’s what the game is about for a lot of us and that’s what makes it fun. This guide is ultimately an attempt at making that choosing process a bit more straightforward, hopefully saving some trial-and-error along the way. Keep in mind that the choices made here try to min/max stats, optimize gear and Esper distribution and follow certain guidelines that you might not necessarily deem adequate for your enjoyment.
 
Basic concepts
 
Defining efficiency
 
We can all agree having something done ‘efficiently’ usually equates to one or more of the following concepts: quick, fast, low-to-no risk, standardized procedure, easy to understand mechanics, easy access to said mechanics. For the most part, if you can kill a boss, not get even close to wiping your team and do it in a perceivably short window of time, you are doing it efficiently. All of these parameters are subjective. ‘Fast’ is subjective and so is the perception of ‘safety’ or ‘risk’. This is why to properly min/max in a game, you need a definitive value you can let your decisions ride on. Be it equivalency points, damage points or whatever you might call it, it’s important to have a tangible number that enables you to equate two seemingly distinct factors. For instance, would it be better for your character to have X non-damaging ability or would it be better to trade in that ability for X amount of added damage? There’s no way to answer that without falling into the realm of opinions, preferences and hearsay. However, if you had a way of translating both options into a numerical value, you would see which one is superior, hence making the choice easier. That is the underlying basic principle of theorycrafting and, in turn, min/maxing.
 
IZJS presents a problem. In short, it’s not min/maxable. Due to the amount of party combinations, the somewhat limited specialization of each job and abilities, how AI, encounters and status effects work and certain mechanics of the combat system, breaking everything down into numbers would not only be unrealistic, but, more importantly, it would be unnecessary as well. However, it’s undeniable that certain choices result in faster fights, more reliable ways of dealing damage, different difficulty in acquisition of necessary gear and so on. With that (and the above paragraph) in mind, one could assert that some decisions are universally more efficient than others.
 
But we’re still lingering in the sphere of subjectivity. One person might argue that spending hours farming a certain offensive consumable item to use in battle might be the most efficient method of tackling a fight. Another might say that slowly and carefully manipulating a boss’ AI to beat it and skipping the farming would be the better choice. Arguments like these would be endless. From here on out, what’s ‘efficient’ will try and be defined by some general ideas that most gamers can agree on (see first paragraph).
 
Size and switching
 
Barring the early portion of the game and special events where you might have guest party members, your team is always going to be composed of three members. Due to this, this guide will treat each trio as a standalone group. It’s certainly possible to constantly switch members in and out as necessity or boredom dictates but having to spend time leveling four, five or six characters is naturally going to take longer than leveling just three. Perhaps this was the original intent of the game designers but, via min/maxing, it’s possible to narrow down the ultimate objective of game completion to just one trio. Also, for the most part, there are no real benefits in combining more than three characters’ abilities in the same encounter due to the fact that their capacities and abilities start to overlap. For instance, you really don’t need your characters to account for every possible healing spell at any given time since that would be redundant and serve no real purpose. Also consider that, unless you’re unnecessarily doubling up on a specific profession, you will cover a lot of ground with three distinct jobs in terms of versatility with most of the combinations presented here.
 
Composition and criteria
 
IZJS is unique in that choosing the best job for each character and then mixing and matching will not give you the best team. A team should be seen as a single functional unit. It needs to cover certain basics, regardless of how each individual job’s abilities, gearing and Espers might fit a specific character. What’s needed of a team might vary according to what kind of playthrough you want to tackle (normal, weak mode, challenges, etc.) and, as always, personal expectations. The following list shall enumerate the requirements for any team to be considered efficient and viable in a normal, 100% clear playthrough.
 

  1. i) Must be able to clear 100% of the encounters in-game, including optional marks and trial mode.
  2. ii) Must not rely on consumables farming (Meteorites, etc.) or invisible gear.

iii) Must not exploit terrain, zoning or otherwise unintended-in-design glitches.
 
Besides those three core points, each team should, ideally, rely as little as possible in ‘cheese’ gimmicks, like bouncing triple casts off reflected allies or Niho-ing all the time. However, those mechanics are generally viewed as signature in the Final Fantasy franchise and therefore are a too integral part of the game to be considered invalid. At the end of the day, it’s up to the player to determine what’s fair game and what’s cheese.
 
Vaan
 
HP – 5174
MP – 632
STR – 78
MAG – 73
VIT – 61
SPD – 37
 
Balthier
 
HP – 5036
MP – 595
STR – 75
MAG – 63
VIT – 58
SPD – 38
 
Fran
 
HP – 4810
MP – 631
STR – 71
MAG – 68
VIT – 62
SPD – 36
 
Basch
 
HP – 5224
MP – 540
STR – 78
MAG – 63
VIT – 47
SPD – 35
 
Ashe
 
HP – 4799
MP – 693
STR – 73
MAG – 78
VIT – 57
SPD – 36
 
Penelo
 
HP – 4658
MP – 714
STR – 70
MAG – 76
VIT – 60
SPD – 36
 
we might need this!!
 
http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/939426-final-fantasy-xii-international-zodiac-job-system/52876031
 
Archer black mage breaker hunter knight machinist monk red mage time mage uhlan white mage
 
Samurai 
 
Samurai / Archer / Breaker
Samurai / Archer / Black Mage
Samurai / Archer / Hunter
Samurai / Archer / Machinist
Samurai / Archer / Monk
Samurai / Archer / Red Mage
Samurai / Archer / Time Mage
Samurai / Archer / Uhlan
Samurai / Archer / White Mage
 

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