All right, let's not beat around the bush: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a huge, complex game that doesn't really give you much guidance - especially when it comes to the Job system. As such, we've put together this hopefully handy guide that should help you build an effective team of adventurers.

Get your brain in gear, because there's a lot of stuff to wrap your head around.

The Basics

Okay, let's start with the absolute basics. At the core of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age's gameplay is the Job system. This system allows you to assign jobs, or roles, or classes, or whatever you want to call them to each of your party members. 

Here are the key numbers you need to know about:

  • As you progress through the game, you'll end up with 6 permanent party members.
  • Each party member can be assigned 2 different Jobs
  • There are 12 Jobs in the game. All 12 Jobs are available from the start.

What actually is a Job?

Think of a Job as a character's role in combat. Not too far into the game, you'll be able to assign Jobs to party members as soon as they join your team. You can assign any Job you like to a party member, but always remember: Job assignment is permanent. Once you've assigned a Job to someone, there's no way to take it back or change to a different Job. Save your game before making a big decision.

Jobs are defined by their License Board. All 12 Jobs each have their own unique License Board which you navigate in order to unlock various skills and abilities that you can use in battle. If you want to know more about a specific Job, be sure to preview the Job's License Board by pressing square on the Job Wheel screen.

What's a License?

In order to use Magick, Technicks, Quickenings, Espers, and equipment, you'll first need to unlock the corresponding License on a Job's License Board. This may sound like a bit of a pain, but it's basically the game's way of ensuring that you have full control over how your party develops and grows more powerful.

In order to unlock a License, you'll need to spend LP, which is short for License Points. You get LP by defeating enemies in combat. Some Licenses cost more than others, depending on their effectiveness. For example, a License that allows you to use the Curaga spell - which heals a lot of health - is going cost more LP than a License that allows you to use the basic Cure spell.

When you unlock a License, the Licenses around it will also become available to unlock. Plan ahead by checking your surrounding Licenses on the License Board before you start spending LP.

What is Magick?

Magick is the game's dumb way of spelling 'magic'. It's a blanket term for all the spells that you can acquire. 

There are five types of Magick:

  • White Magick is based on healing and supporting the party.
  • Black Magick is based on dealing damage to enemies with mostly elemental spells.
  • Green Magick is based on a handful of slightly strange spells that mostly support your party.
  • Time Magick is based on spells that alter the flow of time, either for your party or your enemies.
  • Arcane Magick is based on dealing damage to enemies with various spells.

Magick is a crucial part of combat in Final Fantasy XII. You'll need to make good use of it in order to succeed - especially during more difficult fights later in the game. Magick costs MP, or Magick Points, to use.

Magick is available to almost every Job, although some Jobs are much better suited to using it.

What are Technicks?

Technicks are skills that aren't Magick, and therefore don't cost MP to use. However, Technicks are more limited in their usefulness. Think of them as situational abilities that can be surprisingly helpful when used correctly.

What are Quickenings?

Quickenings are basically super attacks. Each License Board has them, and like any other License, you'll need to spend LP to unlock them.

What are Espers?

Espers are summoned beings that help you out during combat. You'll add them to your License Boards as you progress through the game. Any character can unlock any Esper, but be warned: once one character acquires an Esper, it belongs to them - no one else will be able to acquire that same Esper.

What are Locked Licenses?

When looking at a License Board, you'll probably be able to see Licenses that you can't reach. These are known as Locked Licenses. If you can't see a path to them across the Board, then that's probably because you haven't discovered the path yet. These Locked Licenses are usually hiding behind either a Quickening or an Esper that you haven't come across in your adventure.

As such, you need to carefully consider what Licenses are locked behind certain Espers and plan accordingly - especially since each Esper can only be unlocked by one single character. Again, remember to save your game before making important decisions on the License Board.

What are Augments?

Augments are the game's passive stat bonuses. Once you unlock one on the License Board, that character will gain that bonus permanently. Augments are incredibly important when it comes to making your party stronger.

Augments help define each Job. Some Jobs, for example, have more Swiftness Augments than others, making them inherently faster. It's always a good idea to prioritise Augments when unlocking Licenses as they provide an instant boost in effectiveness.

Equipment

Equipment is the second core pillar of an effective party. Alongside the right Magick, Technicks, and Espers, you'll need the right equipment to get the job done. The equipment that each character can use is, of course, determined by their Job. As with Magick and Technicks, you'll need to unlock Licenses in order to use better equipment that you either find while exploring or buy from merchants.

There are three equipment categories:

  • Weapons
  • Armour
  • Accessories

Weapons

Weapons are used to deal physical damage up close or at range. Different weapon types have different attack speeds and provide different stat increases once they're equipped to a character. Some Jobs have License Boards which allow you to equip more than one type of weapon, but most Jobs will be stuck with a single pre-determined weapon type.

Armour

Like weapons, the armour that a character can wear is determined by their Job. Different armour types provide different stat increases once they're equipped to a character.

There are three types of armour:

  • Heavy Armour: Boosts Strength and Defence.
  • Light Armour: Boosts Vitality and Speed.
  • Mystic Armour: Boosts Magic Power and Resistance.

Accessories

Accessories can be equipped by characters of any Job as long as they have the Licenses for them. Generally speaking, accessories grant very useful and diverse abilities, so be sure to equip any good ones that you find.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Job List and Recommendations

Now we're into the meat of things. Here, we'll go over every available Job in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age and give you our thoughts on each. We'll also include the equipment each Job gets access to, as well as what role we think each Job is best suited to in battle.

Knight

Weapon: Swords, Greatswords

Armour: Heavy Armour, can equip Shields

Role in the party: A frontlines fighter, dealing and taking damage.

  • Magick: The Knight doesn't gain access to any Magick on its normal License Board. However, later down the line, it can unlock powerful White Magick through an Esper lock.
  • Technicks: The Knight gets access to a few Technicks, the most noteworthy being Souleater, which is an attack that does increased damage at the expense of some HP.
  • Augments: The Knight gets a bunch of Battle Lore Augments, increasing its physical attack power by a large amount. It also gets three Shield Block Augments, making it an effective shield user. However, the Knight only gets one Swiftness Augment, which means it's a little on the slow side.

Our thoughts: You can't go wrong with having a Knight in your party. Knights soak up damage brilliantly - especially if they have a shield equipped - and they can pick up some powerful greatswords if you need extra damage output.

Overall importance: Useful

White Mage

Weapon: Rods, Daggers (locked via Esper), Greatswords (locked via Esper)

Armour: Mystic Armour

Role in the party: All-out healer with access to some support Magick if required.

  • Magick: The White Mage gets access to every White Magick spell and some useful Green Magick.
  • Technicks: The White Mage is a Magick user first and foremost so its Technicks are limited, but it does get access to Charge, which can restore MP if it's running low.
  • Augments: The White Mage gets two Swiftness Augments, making it reasonably quick. It also gets a mighty 15 Magick Lore Augments, boosting the potency of its healing spells massively.

Our thoughts: Having a White Mage in your party is a must. This Job is the game's ultimate healer, keeping your party alive even during the toughest of battles. It's not just about healing, though, as the White Mage can also make good use of spells like Protect and Shell to ease incoming damage. It's worth mentioning that White Magick actually deals damage to undead foes, which essentially means that a White Mage can become your main damage dealer against opponents such as reanimated corpses and ghosts.

Overall importance: Essential

Black Mage

Weapon: Staves

Armour: Mystic Armour, Heavy Armour (locked via Esper)

Role in party: Dealing out Magick damage from a distance and exploiting elemental weaknesses.

  • Magick: The Black Mage gets access to every Black Magick spell and some useful Green Magick.
  • Technicks: The Black Mage can acquire Charge, which can restore some MP if it's running low.
  • Augments: The Black Mage gets two Swiftness Augments, so it's a reasonably fast Job. As you'd expect, it also gets a massive 16 Magic Lore Augments, making its Magick power a force to be reckoned with.

Our thoughts: Creating a party that can survive any situation is always going to be your priority, but sometimes, simply soaking up damage and healing isn't enough. That's when a Job like the Black Mage comes into the equation, capable of dishing out some huge punishment - especially if you exploit an enemy's weakness.

Overall importance: Very useful

Archer

Weapon: Bows

Armour: Light Armour, Heavy Armour (locked via Esper)

Role in party: Dealing ranged physical damage while supporting the party with items.

  • Magick: The Archer doesn't get access to any Magick on its normal License Board, but it does snag a couple of good healing spells via a Quickening lock.
  • Technicks: The Archer gets access to a good amount of Technicks, including Addle, which lowers an enemy's effectiveness with magic. Shades of Black is also worthy of mention, allowing the Archer to let off a random Black Magick spell at no MP cost.
  • Augments: The Archer gets three Swiftness Augments, making it a very fast Job. This works well in conjunction with its Potion Lore and Remedy Lore Augments, which means the Archer can make great use of these items, healing more HP with potions and curing more negative status effects with remedies.

Our thoughts: The Archer is a solid Job that can deal out some good damage from a distance, especially against flying enemies. What's more, its item Augments can really help the party out in tight spots with extra healing and even revives. However, the Archer shouldn't be treated as your main healer unless you really like spending all of your money on potions.

Overall importance: Useful

Monk

Weapons: Poles

Armour: Light Armour

Role in party: Dealing heavy close range physical damage and (potentially) healing allies.

  • Magick: The Monk is a physical attacker first and foremost, but through Quickening and Esper locks, it can again access to high level White Magick spells.
  • Technicks: The Monk has access to a handful of Technicks, most notably Expose, which decreases an enemy's physical defence.
  • Augments: The Monk gets access to a whopping 16 Battle Lore Augments, making it a very powerful physical attacker. However, it only gets one Switfness Augment, so it's not the fastest of Jobs unless you grab a further two Swiftness Augments via an Esper lock.

Our thoughts: Capable of dishing out big physical damage at close range, the Monk is a good choice if your party needs some raw power. However, the Monk's true colours may shine through later in the game thanks to some effective healing spells that are locked off behind an Esper. You don't have to go for these, but they do give the Monk a certain edge, especially if you're looking for a backup healer.

Overall importance: Useful

Foebreaker

Weapon: Axes and Hammers

Armour: Heavy Armour, can equip Shields

Role in party: A frontlines fighter that specialises in weakening enemies with Technicks.

  • Magick: The Foebreaker doesn't gain access to any Magick at all.
  • Technicks: The Foebreaker gains access to some great Technicks in the form of Addle, Wither, Shear, and Expose. All of these Technicks weaken your enemies in one way or another.
  • Augments: The Foebreaker gets three Shield Block Augments, increasing its survivability. 11 Battle Lore Augments ensure that it's doing good physical damage, but just one Switfness Augment outside of Esper locks make it quite a slow Job.

Our thoughts: The Foebreaker's a bit of a weird Job in that it's not quite as effective a frontline fighter as the Knight thanks to its lack of potential healing Magick and inability to wield greatswords, but its enemy-weakening Technicks simply shouldn't be ignored. The Foebreaker can wreak havoc on even the toughest enemies, bringing down their defences so that your heavy-hitters can really get stuck in.

Overall importance: Useful

Machinist

Weapon: Guns, Measures

Armour: Light Armour

Role in party: A ranged damage dealer that supports the party with items.

  • Magick: The Machinist doesn't get access to any Magick on its normal License Board, but via Esper locks, it can grab some Green and Time Magick.
  • Technicks: The Machinist gains a handful of Technicks, but none of them are really worth singling out.
  • Augments: The Machinist gets three Swiftness Augments, making it a very fast Job. It also gets all three Potion Lore and Remedy Lore Augments, making it an item specialist.

Our thoughts: Much like the Archer, the Machinist is a ranged damage dealer that is skilled in getting the most out of healing items, which basically means that they fit the same kinds of roles in a party. However, when it comes to damage output, the Archer's bows are much faster and are eventually more powerful than the Machinist's guns. With this in mind, it's quite difficult to recommend the Machinist over its bow-and-arrow counterpart.

Overall importance: Limited usefulness

Red Battlemage

Weapon: Maces, Greatswords (locked via Esper)

Armour: Mystic Armour, can equip Shields

Role in party: An all-round Job that can fill various roles, either as an offensive Magick user, a healer, or a close range fighter with Magick support.

  • Magick: The Red Battlemage gets access to a large amount of both White and Black Magick spells. However, only through an Esper lock can the Red Battlemage can grab more powerful White Magick. What's more, some Green, Time, and Arcane Magick are also available.
  • Technicks: The Red Battlemage gets access to Charge, which can restore some MP when it's running low.
  • Augments: The Red Battlemage only gets one Swiftness Augment, meaning that it makes for a slower Magick user when compared to the White Mage or Black Mage. However, a decent 11 Magick Lores ensure its many, many spells are up to snuff.

Our thoughts: The Red Battlemage is a Job that you can build a party around thanks to its many talents. Its ability to fill numerous roles makes it a very reliable Job in almost any situation, and the fact that it can equip shields gives it a degree of survivability that other Magick users don't have. Even with another, more specialised mage in the party, the Red Battlemage can still find a way to either support its allies or help deal damage. A rock solid Job through and through.

Overall importance: Very useful

Shikari

Weapons: Daggers, Ninja Swords, Guns (locked via Esper)

Armour: Light Armour, can equip Shields

Role in party: A very balanced and fast close range fighter.

  • Magick: The Shikari has no Magick barring some Esper locked, but powerful White Magick.
  • Technicks: The Shikari has a handful of Technicks, but nothing really stands out.
  • Augments: The Shikari has a balanced set of Augments. It gets three Swiftness Augments, making it a very fast Job, while two Shield Block Augments give it some welcome defence. All three Potion Lore and Remedy Lore Augments also ensure that it's an item specialist.

Our thoughts: Another Job you can't go wrong with, the Shikari is an all-round frontlines fighter with great speed, access to shields, and very handy item Augments. Light Armour means that it's not quite as effective as the Knight or Foebreaker at absorbing damage, but it can still hold its own in a heated battle.

Overall importance: Useful

Uhlan

Weapon: Spears

Armour: Heavy Armour

Role in party: A frontlines fighter that specialises in dealing raw physical damage.

  • Magick: The Uhlan doesn't have access to any Magick on its normal License Board, but it can grab some reasonably powerful Black Magick through Esper locks.
  • Technicks: The Uhlan doesn't have any Technicks worth shouting about other than perhaps Souleater, but it does get access to both Wither and Expose through Esper locks.
  • Augments: The Uhlan is one of the most deadly close range physical attacker thanks to 13 Battle Lore Augments. Two Swiftness Augments also ensure that it's a reasonably fast Job.

Our thoughts: Although it doesn't have access to quite as many Battle Lores as the Monk, the Uhlan's extra Swiftness Augment (without an Esper lock) may make it a better physical damage dealer at first, and its access to heavy armour makes it inherently tougher to kill. Spears also allow the Uhlan to attack flying enemies, which can definitely come in handy during certain fights.

Overall importance: Useful

Bushi

Weapon: Katana

Armour: Mystic Armour, Heavy Armour (locked via Esper)

Role in party: A very straightforward physical damage dealing Job.

  • Magick: The Bushi has no Magick whatsoever.
  • Technicks: The Bushi has a handful of Technicks at its disposal, but none of them are worth a specific mention.
  • Augments: The Bushi gets three Swiftness Augments, which makes it a fast offensive Job.

Our thoughts: The Bushi isn't the most interesting of Jobs, but it's very good at dishing out fast damage. Katanas have high combo rates, meaning that they often let off a flurry of slashes rather than a singular strike, and they attack quickly. Overall, Bushi is a fine Job that doesn't require much thought to get the most out of it.

Overall importance: Useful

Time Battlemage

Weapon: Crossbow, Swords (locked via Esper)

Armour: Heavy Armour

Role in party: A somewhat unorthodox Job that makes use of Time Magick, a long range weapon, and heavy armour. Can fill a number of roles, including Magick support and ranged damage dealer.

  • Magick: The Time Battlemage gets access to all Time Magick, which can primarily be used to speed up the party or slow down enemies. It also gets some Green Magick.
  • Technicks: The Time Battlemage has a limited number of Technicks, but it does get Charge which can restore MP. Shear and Addle are also available, but are locked behind Espers.
  • Augments: The Time Battlemage gets three Swiftness Augments, making it a speedy Job. It also gets a mix of 9 Battle Lore Augments and 9 Magick Lore Augments, bolstering both its physical damage and Magick potency.

Our thoughts: Despite its slightly strange mix of abilities, the Time Battlemage is actually a very balanced Job. Its crossbow can hit quite hard from range, and it can enhance the party's effectiveness with Time Magick spells such as Haste, which speeds everyone up. Speaking of speed, three Swiftness Augments means the Time Battlemage is a quick customer, and access to heavy armour ensures some survivability. It may not specialise in any particular field, but when used correctly, the Time Battlemage can enhance any party.

Overall importance: Very useful

Crucial Roles in Combat and Best Suited Jobs

Now that we've taken a look at the game's 12 available jobs, it's time to think about what roles an effective party needs in order to survive. Those of you who have dabbled in MMORPGs or any class-based RPGs will probably already know the basics, and the same general rules apply in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. For those who aren't familiar with how traditional role-playing combat works, let's break it down.

There are four very general roles to consider when making an effective party in most role-playing games:

  • Tank: A general term that refers to characters who are built to soak up damage and keep the enemy's pressure off defensively weaker party members.
  • Damage dealer: A general term that refers to characters who focus on doing as much damage to the enemy as possible.
  • Healer: A general term that refers to characters who heal other party members, keeping them in top shape while they fulfil their own roles.
  • Support: A general term that refers to characters who assist their allies with buffs or secondary healing. They may also weaken enemies with debuffs or use other means to alter the flow of battle.

These four roles form the basis of what you should be looking for in Final Fantasy XII. With this in mind, let's take a look at which Jobs fill each role based on abilities, stats, and equipment.

Tank Jobs

Tanks aren't quite as important as healers in Final Fantasy XII, but they're still a must-have in many situations. A tank character is there to soak up damage and draw the enemy's attention away from allies who simply can't take as many hits.

Recommended tank Jobs include:

  • Knight (shields, heavy armour, potential self-healing via locked White Magick)
  • Foebreaker (shields, heavy armour, weakening enemy attacks via Technicks)

Other potential tank Jobs include:

  • Shikari (shields, specialised healing item use)

Damage dealer Jobs

Damage dealers hit enemies hard with whatever attacks work best. Unlike tanks and healers, damage dealers aren't really the backbone of a party, but they're still very important to have around, especially when you need to take care of multiple enemies quickly.

Recommended damage dealer Jobs include:

  • Black Mage (mystic armour, full access to Black Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)
  • Archer (long range attacks, large amount of Swiftness Augments)
  • Monk (large amount of Battle Lore Augments)
  • Uhlan (spear weapon also hits flying enemies, large amount of Battle Lore Augments)
  • Bushi (combo-heavy katana weapon, large amount of Swiftness Augments)

Other potential damage dealer Jobs include:

  • Machinist (long range attacks, large amount of Swiftness Augments)
  • Red Battlemage (mystic armour, access to a range of damaging Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)
  • Time Battlemage (long range attacks, large amount of Battle Lore Augments)

Healer Jobs

Having a dedicated healer is perhaps the most important role to consider overall, as without one, you'll either be going through a lot of potions, or you simply won't have the endurance to face off against boss enemies or tougher enemy groups.

Recommended healer Jobs include:

  • White Mage (mystic armour, full access to White Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)

Other potential healer Jobs include:

  • Red Battlemage (mystic armour, access to most White Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)
  • Monk (access to powerful White Magick, but only via an Esper lock)

Support Jobs

In a way, support characters are kind of there to fill the gaps. A support character may be able to fulfil another role that your party is missing, or perhaps they bring specific, useful abilities to the table that can really help you out in certain situations.

Recommended support Jobs include:

  • Time Battlemage (full access to Time Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)

Other potential support Jobs include:

  • White Mage (mystic armour, full access to White Magick support spells, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)
  • Archer (item use specialist, large amount of Swiftness Augments)
  • Machinist (item use specialist, large amount of Swiftness Augments)
  • Red Battlemage (mystic armour, access to a wide range of support Magick, large amount of Magick Lore Augments)
  • Shikari (item use specialist, large amount of Swiftness Augments)

Keep your party's crucial roles in mind, and you should be able to build an effective team, or at least the foundations for one.

Choosing Second Jobs

There'll come a point not too far into the game where you'll be granted the ability to pick a second Job for each character. Picking a second Job for each member of your party can be a tricky proposition as there are many, many combinations to consider and evaluate based on what you think your team needs to be even more effective than it already is. Like a character's initial Job, second Jobs cannot be undone once they're acquired.

Overall, there are several key questions that you should ask yourself when deciding on a character's second Job:

  1. Should I build on their strengths? With a second Job, it's possible to enhance already powerful characters by building on their core strengths.
  2. Should I patch up their weaknesses? Some of your characters may have obvious weaknesses. You can use a second Job to make them a more well-rounded character.
  3. How active are they in combat? Some characters will be less active than others in combat due to the requirements of their Job. Red Battlemages, for example, tend to be far more active than Bushis because they have an entire arsenal of Magick spells to consider, while Bushis can simply stand there and slice enemies to pieces with standard attacks. You may want to even things out with a second Job, and give some characters more to do in combat so that the workload is more evenly shared among your party.
  4. Do I want them to use a different weapon? A second Job means gaining access to different weapon types. If you want to change a character's positioning or slightly alter their role, a new weapon from a second Job may do the trick.
  5. Do I want them to use different armour? A second Job also means that you may earn the right to equip your characters with different armour types. If you want to change a character's role in combat slightly, then it's something to consider.
  6. Do I need another tank, damage dealer, healer, or support character? If you feel like your party is a little lop-sided, why not change the role of a non-essential character with a second Job?

Truth be told, if you stick to the rough blueprint of having tanks, damage dealers, healers, and support characters in your party, there's no real way of damaging your team's effectiveness by choosing the 'wrong' second Jobs. However, selecting a second Job that works well with your first can transform an already powerful character into an absolute monster. As with most things in Final Fantasy XII, careful consideration is required.