Monsters and Medicine
Before we go any further with this, I'd like to rearrange the party, which will give me a reason to explain stuff.
Your Clan starts out with six units:
- Main Character (Amiah) [Human SLD]
- Montblanc [Moogle BLK]
- Human SLD (Eugene)
- Bangaa MNK (Alexey)
- Nu-Mou WHT (Cliffor)
- Viera ARC (Elma)
There are a couple things wrong with this setup as is.
First off, one of your generics has the exact same job and race as your hero. This is generally a bad idea, since you can only field at most 6 units at a time (sometimes less).
The second thing is that Montblanc's stats don't really make him a good Black Mage.
The third thing is that except the White Monk and White Mage, none of those classes are very fast. Speed is a very important statistic in this game - sure, one or two points doesn't seem like a big deal, but 30 levels down the line you may well have 20 other turns in between one of your units'. My Archer actually came out with a surprisingly high amount of speed, though (116, making her my second fastest character).
The first step in fixing all this requires a certain amount of familiarity with the people of Ivalice, divided into five Races: Human, Nu-Mou, Bangaa, Viera, and Moogle.
are... well... average
. They have access to a wide variety of jobs, starting with Black Mage (BLK), White Mage (WHT), Archer (ARC), Thief (THF), and Soldier (SLD).
are the expert magic users. Almost all of their jobs are magically-oriented, and none
of them is very well suited to "smack enemies over head with weapon". They start with Black Mage, White Mage, and Beastmaster (BST) unlocked.
are tough, but slow. Some consider them to be not worth using, because none of their jobs get Speed growth that's that great. They start with only two jobs: Warrior (WAR) and White Monk (MNK).
are fast, and hit okay well, but aren't that durable. Not super-fragile, but you do need to expend extra effort to keep them alive. They start with White Mage, Archer, and Fencer (FEN) unlocked.
are... hard to define with one phrase that isn't rather long-winded like this one - many Moogle jobs are rather gimmicky, and tend to have a lot of status effect abilities. They start with Black Mage, Thief, and Animist (ANM) unlocked.
In an effort to not screw myself over, I pay 300 gil to accept the plot-advancement mission (and only one available) from the pub: "Herb Picking". Basically, someone wants us to go out and gather herbs for use in making medicines and such. If you read the title of the installment, you know what's probably going to happen when we go to do that.
Because there isn't really that much of a way to change half the team's jobs without buying new equipment, and I need money to buy new equipment, it would have been possible (but highly, highly unlikely) to go completely overboard and run out before I could pay the 300 Gil mission fee.
Once that's done, complete with uninteresting cutscene, I change Amiah's job to Thief and Elma's to Fencer. This completely ranged-screws Clan Euphoria, but for now that's okay; Archers aren't very useful in either of the first two plot missions. They're okay in the first one, but in the second they're at a huge disadvantage.
The jobs we have unlocked are as follows:
- Soldier (Human) / Warrior (Bangaa): These two are basically the same job. Both job classes can use Swords, but Soldiers can also use Greatswords. Warriors, however, get to use Broadswords instead. They are basically the same weapon group, but enough job classes exist that use them that a split was apparently necessary. Many of their abilities reduce the opponent's stats; among the most useful of these is Speedbreak, which is available from very early on.
- Archer (Human and Viera): Archers are, well, archers. They use Bows, which generally have a range of about 5-6 panels (although I think there's one that has Range 7). One of their most useful abilities is Concentrate, which gives a passive bonus to hit rate and is super-broken, although unavailable until late in the game. Sadly, this does not stop your enemies from getting it.
- Thief (Human and Moogle): Thieves steal stuff. They can eventually learn to steal gil, shields, accessories, EXP, JP, armor, weapons, hats , abilities, and basically anything you'd care to name. Except shoes. Mizer would love it in Ivalice. Thieves use Knives, which are fairly weak, with one or two glaring exceptions.
- Black Mage (Human, Nu-Mou, and Moogle): They go around casting attack magic at stuff. Black Mages use rods, which why would you even consider smacking someone with one? Seriously?
- White Mage (Human, Nu-Mou, and Viera): They heal people. They also get Protect, Shell, and other life-preserving buffs. White Mages use staves, which are only slightly more powerful than rods.
- White Monk (Bangaa): They punch people. They can also learn to punch people from a distance, as well as a few support moves that don't require MP. Since they punch people, they use fist weapons, which usually take the form of claws.
- Fencer (Viera): Fencers are rather quick on their feet and gain new and unique ways to attack people with a really thin sword. Said "really thin swords" are Rapiers, which are otherwise only used by caster classes. My personal favorite Fencer skill is the ranged attack Nighthawk.
- Beastmaster (Nu-Mou): Beastmasters have the unique ability to command monsters in combat. This would be really, really neat if you fought monsters more often, but most battles you'll be up against other clans, making them too situational. However, good things happen if you stick with one (or if you have another unit with a specific job class.)
- Animist (Moogle): Animists use nature and animals and whatnot to do stuff. Their abilities can be downright infuriating, and not just because one of them causes Berserk. The real nuisances (or blessings, if you're using them) are Chocobo Rush and Cuisine.
With that, time to head off to Giza Plains.
- Mission 001: Herb Picking
- [Location: Giza Plains]
- [Laws: [Fire / Ice] [R1]]
Oh look there are monsters here. Let's kill them all so we can pick herbs in peace.
This is a straightforward battle - the monsters here don't have any abilities, so all they can do is punch you (monsters don't equip weapons).
One note about the laws, though: In the fight with the two Bangaa, Montblanc stated that the laws forbid certain actions. However, for every action type that is forbidden, another one is encouraged, or, as the game puts it, Recommended. Doing Recommended Actions awards 1 JP per action, provided it did something. The game's law calendar puts the Forbidden side in blue and the Recommended side in red, which is what would I have done above if the color code worked in liveblogs. [Forbidden / Recommended] is the way I will specify laws for combat. However, killing a unit with a Recommended Action will not
award additional JP - JP is always dispensed one point at a time.
The [R1] next to the law is its Rank. A law's Rank affects what kinds of punishment units can receive for breaking it. Not all laws will be Rank 1, obviously; they get up to Rank 6 (although R6 laws are very rare.)
- Despite the fact that these are monsters, which logically should not have money, a Thief can still steal money from them, and in fact, can do so multiple times! This continues throughout the entire game.
- If you manipulate the law to forbid Fight, the monsters will run away from you. This makes your White Mage basically useless for the battle, since you WILL want him or her learning Cure.
After a quick, easy battle, the herbs are picked and the mission is clear.
- 40 AP
- 600 Gil
- Map Symbol: Lutia Pass
AP is awarded at the end of every battle and goes towards your units' abilities. Your units learn abilities from equipment (for example, the Jackknife teaches Thieves Steal:Gil). While you are learning an ability, you can still use it.
All abilities being learned receive the AP at the end of every battle, so if your unit is learning multiple abilities (almost essential, as armor and accessories grant abilities too), they will both receive 40 AP if you complete a battle that awards 40 AP. And it just happened twice
, as both the Soldier and Fencer are learning Shieldbearer in addition to their weapon's ability.
Abilities are also divided into four types.
- Action or "A-Abilities": Stuff you do in combat. A-Abilities are grouped according to what class learns them. Units must have their own job's ability set equipped, but can also equip a second one, which can be "Item"* . A-Abilities are almost exclusively learned from weapons.
- Reaction or "R-Abilities": These abilities activate when something is done to you in combat. The simplest, and by many accounts most useful one is Counter, which responds to attacks with attacks. R-Abilities are usually learned from armor, but there are a few exceptions. R-Abilities are also not affected by the law, which can be abuseable.
- Support or "S-Abilities": Support Abilities are passive bonuses in combat. They can allow units to equip items they normally couldn't or increase their general effectiveness. S-Abilities are usually learned from armor, but at least two are learned from weapons.
- Combo or "C-Abilities": Comboes use JP to deliver a series of successive blows to an enemy unit all at once. Only the unit that actually uses the Combo command requires JP; the other units just tag along. C-Abilities can only be learned from Mythril weapons, which can only be obtained as a random clan battle reward.
That's about it for now; next time, what awaits us in the mountains?