This guide is to help explain how the game mechanics work in regards to building a character. This is meant for end game, starting at DLC2 when smithing is unlocked.
Note: This guide was created by TwoHands and currently is under construction.
When you’ve beaten the game for the first time, you will have access to Chaos mode and DLC. Everything you’ve learned before in terms of game mechanics will be put to the test, but more importantly, you now be required to optimize your play style using the affinities and stats on your gear! This may seem difficult at first because there’s so much information to parse through and you won’t know right away what the best choices are and how effects play together.
In this guide, I will go over the basic patterns for builds and analyze the effects you can choose from.
In the beginning of DLC2 – Wanderer of the Rift – you will have the ability to fuse armor pieces. If you’ve gotten this far, you will undoubtedly have come across Ultima/Evocation effects on your gear. There are also the yellow effects known as chaos effects. The way these work, is that the number represents the max value of the effect when upgraded.
For example, you can smith 2.3% buff duration on your gear. Well a chaos effect is 1.5 that which is 3.45%. An ultima/evocation I effect is 1.8 times that which is 4.14% and so on such that each level of effect is 0.3 more times the original smithing value.
Rank V is 3 times the smithing value
Rank X is 4.5 the smithing value
Ranked effects are only active if your combined Ultima / Evocation affinities are greater than the thresholds. You can see what those are in the Battle setting screen. So you may need to modify which version of an affinity you have on equipment. This is best done through fusing, but will cost you.
Two handed weapons have 1.5 times the smithing value on top of that
Each piece of equipment has 3 normal slots and 2 Special slots. The two special slots are at the top and you cannot smith effects into them, but the the 3 normal slots can have smithed effects.
In the above example: Damage Dealt: Interception and Improved Effect: Onslaught are the special slots. The first effect is active because the Evocation level of all equipment is > Rank VII, but the Ultima level is lower, so the second effect is inactive.
For example, “Improved Effect: Lancet” can only be in the special slot and only found on dropped loot. But Strength + 5 can be smithed on any level 500 gear. Ranked effects (Chaos, Ultima / Evocation) cannot be smithed, but can be fused into the normal slots. The special slots are modifiers to specific class abilities and command abilities. Almost all classes have something like “Jump: Damage Dealt” and “Jump: MP Cost Reduction”. Note that this will apply to both subclasses abilities (Boost Jump and Hyper Jump). If the ability has a duration, you will see Buff Duration effects which almost all command abilities have. If the ability has a charge time such as Magic Sigil, Focus, or Zantestuken, there will be an effect to reduce the charge time.
Accessories also only have 1 special slot, but this is only for either gilgamesh accessory effects (“Mantra” from black belt accessory) or an enemy ability.
Finally, weapons have a 3rd special slot that is only for weapon abilities. There are no ranks to this effect, so put your favorite combo ability here
The next thing to go over is summon blessings. Each summon affinity on your equipment will multiply your base stats of the class based on the summon and its percentage.
This happens even if it is not your primary summon. So if you wanted the Shiva blessing ability, you are free to use a single piece and fit the rest of your equipment with Odin. For example, Breaker is a STR based class and Odin gives the highest multiplication to STR, so every 100% invested in Odin will provide 9 STR. Two handed weapons provide 1.5 times the bonus per affinity invested and shields provide 0.5 times. Therefore, a maxed out summon affinity is 6493% if you have 999% in each slot. This is equivalent to around 576 STR from blessings alone, but don’t expect to find this equipment until rift floors over 200+. On the other hand, the Tyrant has very poor scaling and will only provide 3 STR per 100%. It is much better suited to using Fenrir or Ramuh which provided decent INT scaling because the Tyrant class has mage-like base stats.
For most builds, refer to the summon sheet to determine which stats will benefit your class the most. In general the best summons are:
Fenrir – AGI
Odin – STR
Ramuh – INT
Titan – HP
Alexander – STA
Carbuncle – LCK
The other summons are rarely used except for primary blessing effects or special cases where you need dual stats. Shiva for example provides slightly less AGI as Fenrir, but much more SPI
While there are many options for your second job, building a good sub job is going to be universal for any main job you build and will be necessary for more difficult content. The three best sub-jobs are:
Monk’s focus at level 4 (using Master sub-job) provides 100% improved damage and break damage. This multiplies with “Improved effect: Focus” and applies to everything
Hunter’s analyze provides a mighty strike like effect that scales with the percentage. That is 1% for every stack and multiplied by “Improved Effect: Analyze”. This only applies to physical damage, but when stacked with “Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt” Does a lot more damage.
Both Monk and Hunter can provide more than 3x the damage if invested into as improved effect can reach over 200% for these abilities. If your job needs more damage: look here.
Ninja is useful for its Utsusemi ability which allows you to dodge 3 attacks that would hit you, providing a free shield at the cost of 2 scrolls. This is useful for builds that have no trouble reaching damage cap such as the breaker, and can end fights quickly or at a distance.
For all sub-jobs, it is a good idea to place all of you command abilities on this job so that your main job has more room for their damage abilities. A popular setup for physical builds is Lunatic, Mighty Strikes, and Barrage. Lancet is also a good choice for recovering MP. Summon Tachi provides decent damage, and Invisible is good for Assassins or any break build since it increases break damage. Barrage and Lunatic seem to be the best command abilities in my opinion because they provide more DPS and benefit all classes.
For the Hunter and Monk, get the improved effects of their abilities to max, which means placing that ability on a special slot on each piece. Then for the remaining 6-7 special slots, put a at least 1 MP cost reduction for each command ability and an “Improved effect: Barrage” where you can. Mix and match these till you have a balance of MP management and DPS
For normal effects, add in Buff Duration, Lightbringer Duration, and Soul Burst: MP as needed
<example of a class here>
For the affinities, a good build is an “Infinite LightBringer” build where you can cast lightbringer as many times as you want for for about 10 MP a pop. To do this you need:
400% Void Knight
600% Cyclic Warrior
Leviathan Primary Blessing
Master Points in MP Limit
Master Points in Soul Burst: MP
How this works is that it makes every Lightbringer Activation or soul burst act as a soul shield. Evoker and Leviathan affinities provide max MP which is multiplied by your master points. Void Knight reduces the cost of command abilities which includes Light Bringer. Summoner 600% will double the effects of Leviathan, but it’s 400% is more useful. Each soul shield or Light Bringer activation increase your buffs duration by 10%. So if you want to keep your 99 analyze stacks or 4 focus stacks from expiring, it’s cheaper and faster to spam Light Bringer over and over again. Furthermore, if you have an ability that increases stats on soul shield (Bahamut blessing, breaker 600%, etc.), it will increase that stack by 1. Since the effects share a single icon, you can put Thief 400% on your sub job for the Luck increase. On your main job that uses Bahamut blessing, if either one increases a stack, the stack increases for both. So you can spam LightBringer to increase your stats of your main job. However only the sub job will get the LCK increase from Thief 400%.
While your main job will very, it’s important to get some things out of the way. You are either aiming to kill the enemies with HP damage or break damage. HP damage is determined by STR or INT depending on if you are doing elemental or pure physical damage. So if playing a Breaker class, focus on STR and maybe some AGI.
For AGI, it will only affect 2 things: Break damage on Critical Hits and the number and potency of Barrage. So if going a breaker build, not only do you want more AGI, but also a way to guarantee critical hits such as Samurai 600% or Tyrant 400%. The Hunter 600% will also provide extra break damage when dealing weakness. Funnily enough, non-critical break damage scales with your damage, so you may break things with STR and INT builds without investing in AGI.
For special slots in equipment, you have 3 options for damage:
- Damage Dealt: Class Ability
- Damage Dealt: Weapon Combo Ability
Why one or the other? If you are relying on Breaker’s Zantetsuken to deal damage, then you don’t need to invest in STR. On the other hand, Tyrant has no action ability that does damage, so you’d want to put both “Improved effect: Enchant” AND “Damage Dealt: Knuckles Combo Ability” as these will multiply together.
Add in a couple MP cost reductions if you can, aiming for 100% reduction (effectively 50% MP costs). This will apply to almost all builds. Some classes get multiplies from combo abilities such as Summoner and Paladin while others prefer just using their class ability such as Sage and Dragoon. Also, the basic jobs class ability can appear on equipment so you can still use “Damage Dealt: Spinning Slash” and “Damage Dealt: Greatsword Combo Abilities” on your Dark Knight along with Soul Eater effects if you have room.
For normal equipment effects, you want stats and damage passives. STR characters want STR +20 or as high as they can get on every single piece. Magic characters want INT, etc. AGI is again useful if you can increase Barrage damage on STR classes such as Breaker. Some classes want two stats such as Tyrant which likes INT and some AGI or if using a combo ability that scales of of something like STA like Spinning Slash or Spirit for Photon Blast.
These are the most commonly used normal effects. Choose whichever one gives you the highest bonus. Do note that Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt is multiplicative with other damage abilities. Everything else seems to be additive with other damage dealt passives: I.E. “During LightBringer: Damage Dealt” and “Near Death: Damage Dealt”
During LightBringer: Damage Dealt
Near Death: Damage Dealt
Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt
Critical: Break Damage Dealt
Max HP: Damage Taken
Near Death: Damage Taken
The damage taken passives are useful for tank builds that rely on Runic Protection or Sentinel command abilities to take damage as you’ll always be at Max HP. The Near Death passives work 100% of the time if you have Dark Knight 400%, making it one of the best affinities for HP damage builds to use
Main Job Master Points
Always max out the relevant stats. If a magic user, that’s INT, for a break build, that’s AGI. If you need your class affinity for your build, put in points into affinity. If your class has high base stats, feel free to go up to 1500% as classes such as Breaker, Sage, and Assasin get 9 points for their best stat (STR, INT, AGI) each 100% over 800%. Many classes such as Blue Mage have poor stat scaling and can use the master points elsewhere.
Next, for Section 2 passives, pick up Near Death: Damage Dealt if using Dark Knight 400% or During LightBringer: Damage Dealt if using LightBringer. Break builds amy want to invest instead in critical damage damage or the break version of the LightBringer passive. This is where you’ll get the bulk of your damage passives. Do note that a couple Rank VII effects will be just as strong as the amount of effects you invest here. It adds up. If using Analyze or Mighty Strikes, makes sure to max out “Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt” It’s extremely powerful if you optimize weakness damage.
For section 3:
Parry: MP recovery is a must have if using Samurai 600%. Parry: Damage Dealt is also useful. Soul Burst: MP Recovery is useful for classes that can effectively soul burst every enemy such as Breaker. This will allow the defeat of enemies to fuel the next attack
For the last Section, there are no damage passives, but some classes need the “Status Ailment Accumulation” or other effects. Your sub job will use these effects more often than not.
Main Job Affinities:
These effects will vary between jobs, but some are more useful than others:
Dark Knight 400%
Provides constant Near Death status, and built in Near Death: Damage Dealt of 15% and another passives that increases damage by 15% if targeted by an enemy. With Berserker 250%, you will also get permanent protect/shell to survive. This is the number one way to increase damage right away!
Breaker 600%, Black Mage 600%, Assassin 600%
Provides +30 stacks after 20 soul shields to STR, INT, and AGI respectively. Very useful early on in the rift where +10 of a stat can have really large increases
Black Mage 400%
Allows your magic attacks to build max MP. Useful for max MP trials or if casting spells such as Holy or Meteor which reduce max MP. Combines with MP reduction passives, you can spam these abilities up to an extent
Probably the best abilities for managing MP, critical hits, and increasing damage. The 600 effect will cause any combo ability in a combo link (some kind of effect tied to a combo that is unlocked in the class tree) to trigger any parry effects. This only works if the attack before the ability activation connects with the enemy or you use senshin stance with Katana. If you put in master points into “Parry: MP” then your attacks from that link will cause your MP ro regenerate! Furthermore, it will cause the next attack to critically hit thanks to the 400% effect which makes the next ability critical after a parry! The 250% effect will give you a 5 second 50% damage increase after chain canceling! So if you chain cancel out of a combo link, your next attack will be 50% stronger and critically hit. If you do not have combo links (say, ninja or sage with gun), than these effects are wasted
Knightbringer halves your Lightbringer duration but makes you invincible. This is invaluable for staying alive and most classes will want this as it can last a while. Make sure to use Lightbringer Duration and Buff Duration to make it last longer. Also, increasing defensive properties or adding damage reduction passives will allow it to take more hits. Each hit to you during activation will cause the break bar to decrease. This amount is related to the strength of the attack and your defense.
Immunity to debuffs. Useful for some max trials. Will prevent you from getting petrified, paralyzed, poisoned, etc. If not, increase status ailment resistance on your gear.
Allows chain canceling to regenerate max MP. Useful on jobs that have free abilities like ninja shuriken, tyrant’s enluna, or anything with low MP cost from reduction effects.
Decreases sustained MP costs by 20%. Spinning Slash for example will expend less MP per second. Also applies to Liberator, Paladin, and any other action ability that drains MP
Doubles potency of active summon blessings. Bahamut stacks at +20 now feel like +40 to each stat. Odin and Ramuh debuffs apply more quickly. Alexander debuffs twice as much, Ifrit provides 60% damage instead of 30% when activated. All around useful, but not every job can take advantage of it
Automatically break enemies when defeating them with action abilities. Useful to trigger soul bursting on normal enemies to refresh MP or lightbringer with Berserker 600
15% faster attacks during light bringer. Very powerful effect and stacks with lunatic and haste
Refill break gauge on attack. Lunatic will prevent break gauge from recovering, so use this to keep your break gauge healthy. Not needed if using LightBringer
Get a free lightbringer or refresh it when soul bursting an enemy. This cost is free so you won’t have to spend MP
15% increased physical damage. Because this is weakness damage, will stack with analyze and mighty strikes
Guaranteed criticals whenever attacking an afflicted enemy (anything that needs build up). Works with summon blessings such as Shiva and Ramuh as well as elemental weaknesses. Useful for break builds that can’t guarantee a critical hit
Increase HP by 50%. Stacks with Mantra from Black Belt Accessory. Put this on NPCs to make them tanky or yourself if using Paladin or Black Knight. Both classes scale damage based on Max HP
Void Knight 600%
Parry magic attacks
Potency X Damage Dealt Passives X Ability Damage X Weakness and Critical Modifies X Special Active Effects.
Potency – Determined by stats and effects that increase potency such as Tyrant’s Enchant, Monk’s Focus, and Berserker’s berserk.
Damage Dealt Passives
- Near Death Damage Dealt
- During Lightbringer Damage Dealt
Weakness and Critical Modifiers
- Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt
- Afflicted Ailment: Damage Dealt
- Critical: Damage Dealt
- Weapon Combo Ability
- Class Action Ability
Special Effects – Most of these are multiplicative
- Red Mage and Blue Mage 600%
- Samurai 250%
- Seal of Blood
- Summon Tachi
- Ifrit Blessing
- Parry: Damage Dealt
Resistances – These multiply damage. Some are only physical. Multiplied further by Enemy Weakness: Damage Dealt
- Inky Envy
- Physical Weakness Damage – Mighty Strikes, Analyze, Warrior 600, Ignore enemy defense
Assassin – Fenrir – 9 AGI
Ninja – Fenrir – 7 AGI, 6 INT
Samurai – Odin – 7 STR, 6 AGI
Tyrant – Fenrir – 6 INT, 4 AGI
– Ramuh – 7 INT
Berserker – Odin – 7 STR, 4 STA
– Ifrit – 6 STR, 6 STA
Liberator – Odin – 4 STR, 4 STA
Sage – Ramuh – 9 INT, 7 SPR
Breaker – Odin – 9 STR
For equipment, you want to make them tanky
400% Knight for invisibility during resonance
400% Dark Knight
Black Belt Accessory
If you’re in the rift, you can try for Sage 250% which will allow them to recover your MP whenever they use a potion!
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