Siliconera Speaks Up: Job Habits

By Louise Yang . December 7, 2008 . 8:34am

Let’s talk character classes and jobs in role playing games which let you organize your party like Final Fantasy III. What jobs or classes do you always keep in your party? What classes can you do without?


Jenni: I’ve always been a sucker for a party that consists of a standard, sword wielding warrior, a basic magic user and a monk/ninja, occasionally switching in a gunner or distance shooter. In FFVII I always went with Cloud, Tifa, Vincent, occasionally bringing in Yuffie is a mage. In FFVIII my party was usually Squall, Zell and Rinoa, though occasionally I’d substitute Zell. In FFX I’d always use Tidus, Lulu and Rikku, with Tidus as a warrior, Lulu as a mage and Rikku as a hand-to-hand fighter/thief. FFIII probably best showed my party preferences, as you could completely customize the four character’s jobs. Luneth was my dark knight, Refia was a ninja, Ingus would switch between a red mage and a dragoon and Arc would either be a bard or devout.


There are quite a few classes I never really got used to, though. For example I despise the blue mage class. The only game where I actually used and built one up was FFVIII, and that was because Quistis learned abilities by giving her items, rather than having them used on her. It always seemed like too much work and a bit of a gimmick, when I typically had at least one other mage character who could learn the same spells.


I also don’t care much for beserkers, samurais, scholars, time mages, beast masters and hunters/rangers. For some reason, I look at those classes and realize there are other, more basic classes with similar abilities that are easier to use and make a more rounded party.


Spencer: Final Fantasy III is a tough game. It feels like it was designed to encourage or force players to switch between most of the jobs. There is one boss fight where you pretty much need to make everyone Dragoons and when you’re small you have to make everyone mages. One neat thing about the DS version is job classes like Viking were upgraded with commands like Provoke to be more useful than they were in the Famicom version. At the end these additions didn’t matter much since everyone is a Sage, Ninja, or Onion Knight anyways.


In tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or Disgaea I tend to keep unusual classes in my main group more. The Cheerleader class in Disgaea 3 act as healers, buffers, and have guns. Juggler moogles were one of my favorite classes in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance too since they could deal damage and inflict debilitating status effects from a distance. One of the problems with traditional role playing games is character classes are often pigeonholed into being tank-like knights, healers, or damage dealers that need to be protected. Since developers tend to stick to the archetypes, in respect to game balance, even in modern Japanese RPGs like Lost Odyssey there isn’t much room for creative classes. Random battles happen and end so quickly you don’t need to worry about variables other than doing damage or healing which leaves little room creative classes with unique abilities.


Louise: I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m really frugal in games. I hate spending money on potions and antidotes so naturally, I always have a healer class in my party. I think they’re completely necessary in any sort of party even if everyone has HP regeneration. I hate dying in games and a healer with a resurrection skill and a bunch of defense buffs is the perfect solution to cut down on people dying.


I lean more towards all the ranged classes. In addition to a healer, I almost always have to have an offensive magic caster in my party. Not one of those mages who cast status effects or anything like that, but a straight forward magic damage dealing character. I always feel bad when my melee characters get beat on, so I try to cut down on that by having ranged attackers deal damage to enemies before the melee characters get to them. Usually, if I do that, the melee character just needs to throw in a punch to KO the enemy.


In most games, I shy away from offense-buff dealing classes since I find them ineffective. I can usually deal enough damage with my melee and magic-offense characters to not need a character who can lower enemy defenses. The only exception to that are boss battles; some are just plain nasty unless you lower their defense and attack. This is definitely true of games in the Shin Megami Tensei universe. I learned the hard way that you definitely need offense-buff dealing members in your party if you want to proceed in the game.

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  • I’m pretty close to Louise’s play style – I really like using ranged attacks/offensive magic to soften up enemies for my melee fighters. I just played through Star Ocean: First Departure and had Ioshua in my party the entire time because he specialized in healing magic and group-targeting offensive spells. That’s my ideal magic user.

  • R-1

    No one brings up Final Fantasy V? bah. I always go for a standard party at first and then go experimental once I get a few masteries under my belt.

  • I like to try multiples in hopes of finding an exploit. One black mage isn’t really that that effective. But three? The same goes with knights and other damage dealing classes. I love games that throw me a loop though and require diversification.

  • Chris

    There was a period I was really into Final Fantasy Tactics to the point I did a challenge game for almost all the standard classes where I go through the game with all characters in the same class, only using abilities from that class. I actually bought Gameshark just so I could make Ramza into a Dancer and into a generic Squire. (And I actually finished all of them except Knight, for which I got to the battle near the end with Balk and the dragons, and Calculator, for which I only got to Gafgarion.)

    I find games with classes are more fun if you force yourself to deal with the more obscure abilities rather than just the ones are easy to do large amounts of quick damage with. When I’m not doing a challenge game I tend to just have one or two big healing characters, one or two pure tanks, then a few that can do the helpful obscure things like Oracles and long range fighters.

    Except in stuff like FFV when I focus on stat bonuses.

    Why did FFVII and FFVIII come out in a discussion about classes? Aren’t those the games where everybody can be anything they want at all times, and have all strengths and no weaknesses? It doesn’t matter what characters you pick in those games, you just give everybody all the best abilities at all times.

  • Jenni

    @Chris: I mentioned FFVII and FFVIII because some characters in those games (despite the games not having strict classes) do have class specific abilities or weapons.

    For example, FFVII Vincent and Yuffie are clearly gunners/ranged. You could even argue Vincent is a bit of a Blue Mage or Beserker, since he can transform. Aerith/Aeris is designed to be a healer/mage in the game, as her attack isn’t really that good no matter what weapon you equip her with. You could even “kind-of” consider Cid a dragoon, if you wanted to go by the traditional weapon.

    As for FFVIII, there are classes there, since characters have distinct abilities and weapons unique to them. Quistis is clearly a blue mage, since you can give her monster items and have her learn monsters’ abilities. Zell is a brawler/monk, and has limit breaks similar to Sabin or even reminiscent of Tifa. Irving is clearly a ranged/gunner unit, and you could even argue that Rinoa was designed to be the party’s main mage/healer.

  • I’m in the minority here but I’m actually a bit anti-job system. Characters are more solidified in my mind if they have a particular class, if that class evolves then that is cool but I’m not a fan of switching on the fly. So Shining force is king to me lol
    In terms of part I usually have a buff fighter dude, another class that is basically a fighter (monk, ranger, heavy knight etc), mage and healer. If the mage doubles as a healer chuck a weird class in there.

    For games like disgaea etc I tend to create one of every human class there is available but the brawler classes tend to be the ones that level.

  • Scott

    I always loved Final Fantasy 6, where everyone could learn every spell and still be their respective class. That being said, I always gave Sabin Ramuh as soon as I got him, and my main party consisted of Cyan, Sabin, Edgar and Mog.

    Generally in RPG’s, I tend to lean towards faster characters and spell casters, and depending on the game, eventually end up having a hybrid of the class I first chose, and one of the more powerful classes. I loved my Alchemist Sage from Tactics Advance.

  • I usually like two have at least one class that can perform multiple roles in addition to a strong magic, melee and curse/ranged class.

    That’s why I’m loving the hell out of Persona 3’s party management system…even though Yukari has the best healing abilities, she’s also a solid ranged attacker.

  • SomeDude

    Nice with the screenshot of the Calculator. That’s my class of choice. Using math to destroy your foes, now that was sweet.

  • arollo

    I like to play with nothing but dudes with swords (and maybe a healer). I’m right at the end of Star Ocean, and my entire strategy for the length of the game has been to beef up the strength stat and never, ever use MP, ever. I could lie and say that this is a challenging way to play for a veteran RPG nerd, but I just like hitting enemies with big swords. In that sense, it’s the antithesis of the thinking man’s strategy.

    And yeah, I use this general theme in most every game I play. Swords! Stat boosts! YEAH!

  • black mages, ninja, summoner, samurai

  • nika

    Like scott, I prefer faster characters and spell casters (unless they cast to slow). This goes for fighting games as well, I simply can’t fight with a slow character even if he/she deals tons of damage when you do hit. Slowly but securely chipping away health and finishing it off with a devastating (long range) magic attack is more my style.

    For FFI I used to stick with the standard fighter-thief-black mage-white mage party. but last time I took two red mages instead of the normal ones. even if they can’t learn the best magic in their class, they have other points that make them more usefull.

    for FFX I went with Tidus, Riku, Lulu. Two fast characters and one all powerfull mage, just my thing. I hardly ever used Yuna and Kimari was completely forgotten. Same with the aeons, I almost never summoned them exept for the few cases where you had to.

    In disgaea I am overly reliant on mages, training them to have a reach that includes half of the battlefield and comfortably killing everything from out of a corner. Tales of series sees more mages as well, I run to the front with a fast melee attacker and letting a mage and magic swordsman attack with magic while my healer waits untill (s)he can heal and occasionally throw in another magic spell.

    I’m wondering, I believe there are a few people here that play Valkyria Chronicles as well, what do you prefer do use? I for one love scouts and snipers, however some missions simply require you to use others (if you want to get through in one piece that is)

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