Honing My RPG-Skills with Final Fantasy XII

You may recall this past year that I have been discussing with decent regularity my general incompetence when it comes to RPGs.  For the longest time, I have been employing the “beat it senseless” method of defeating my foes.  When that fails, I proceed to plan B, the “level up a whole bunch and try beating it senseless again” method, which, in all honesty, works far more often than it has any right to.  Nevertheless, I was rather ashamed of myself and my apparent lack of skills in a genre I should have been more than familiar with by now.

Well, folks, I think that’s all beginning to change.  Remember my previous post about my return to Final Fantasy 12?  Last I left you all, I was tasked with travelling through Golmore Jungle in order to visit some dude with a fancy title who lives on a mountain.  I do understand the story thus far better than that sentence suggests, but in order to be more specific, it would require looking online for various correct spellings, which I feel is unnecessary.  If you’ve played the game, then you know what I’m talking about.  If not, then they would be no more than mere words to you anyway.

Before I explain the meaning of the opening sentence to my previous paragraph, let me say that I have not really progressed that far beyond the last post.  I did reach the mountain.  I did talk to the dude, who is not named Anastasia, even if his name is close to it.  I also went through another shrine that was, thankfully, devoid of any demon walls (always a plus) this time, and then…  I think that’s it.

Honestly, I’ve had nightmares about demon walls and its related kin in the past.  Horrifying stuff, I must say.  A monstrous skeleton partially fossilized in a wall?  What madness is this!

Okay, so if in all this time, I hardly progressed through the game’s politics-focused plot, then what have I been doing?  Besides dieting and playing with my cat?  Why, I’ve been leveling up and hunting Marks.  That’s…pretty much it.  I’ve basically been exploring anyplace I can that’s not my characters’ intended destination, filling up my Bestiary, and hunting Marks.  I’ve explored the depths of Barheim Passage and even ran into a bizarre boss I didn’t stand a chance against and shall certainly return to later.  I have completely finished checking out every nook and cranny of the Zertinan Caverns, even going so far as to earning the Esper there, whose name would once again require some serious research into how it might be pronounced, let alone spelled.  I even have leveled up to the point that I have no trouble taking out Elementals and even Entites.  Which, if you aren’t familiar, are typically tough element-wielding enemies that usually appear in bad weather and enjoy casting Silence on everyone.

I have a feeling they only do this to stop my incessant chattering.  Luckily, I have three Rose Corsages that do just nicely at preventing said ailment.  Silence?  Pah!

And of course, the Marks, which I have been felling left and right as of late.  Nearly every Mark I encounter lately stands no chance against me, and I don’t think it’s thanks to my “beat it with the biggest sword you can find” technique.  Not anymore, at least.  No, I have vowed to become better at this genre, and by golly, I think I’ve done it!  Wanna know how?

For one thing, Gambits are used in this game to control your characters.  I leave it off on Vaan so I can control him as freely as possible.  But for everyone else, I have become much more adept at guiding their behavior with these Gambits so that there is far less input required on my part.  If Vaan becomes Confused, I needn’t worry, for someone will be casting Esuna within a moment’s notice.  Flying enemies are now frequently dispatched without any need for me to do anything because my allies start casting Dark on it, or whatever I’ve chosen at the time.  When I first played the game, I don’t remember using the Gambits system that much, and I don’t know why because I think it’s probably one of the best, most straightforward systems in any RPG ever.  I don’t think now is the time to get into any deep discussion into how this system works, but it’s mainly a list of statements kind of like this: “If an ally has this trouble, do this”, or “If this enemy is this kind, try this”.  Simple stuff.

And it doesn’t stop there.  While my past playthroughs of RPGs involved only basic magic, like Cura, elemental magic, and Esuna, with the occasional Shell or Reflect thrown in, I have gotten much better at experimenting and using magic to its fullest potential.  I’ve even started using Dispel at the beginning of tough battles so my foe has no advantage over me!  It’s so simple, but I would have never done that before!  I only wish Reflect was more effective, as in this game, most enemies can still use magic on you even if you have Reflect cast on yourself.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get it at all.

My gripes with Reflect aside, I have been putting my newfound skills to good use, namely in defeating Marks and other tough enemies using magic I would usually just ignore.  Just the other day, I defeated the dastardly Antlion by using Warp to get rid of most of the mantis around it.  (Not only were they a nuisance, but the Antlion will eat them after a while and get stronger, which is very problematic.)

Oh, and items!  Very important, items.  I can’t count the number of times my final character falls just after using a Phoenix Down, and the newly-revived comrade goes on to defeat the enemy with one final attack.  In fact, this method also helped me to defeat the Antlion, for by the end of the battle, I was doing quite dreadful.  But I managed to hold on thanks to a rather effective, if not rather goofy, strategy.  Basically, the last character would revive another with a Phoenix Down, then, they would lure the creature away as the other character would use Aero or some such thing.  Once the first character is inevitably murdered like all their allies before them, the remaining character revives them, and the process continues from there.  That’s seriously how I won the fight.  It was a trying ordeal.

I wasted a good 20 Phoenix Downs in this manner, but it was effective, and I was so happy to have completed what I had originally believed was a nearly impossible battle at my skill level.  As you can tell, my methods are far from perfect, but I think in the recent past, I wouldn’t have stood a chance against some of these enemies without spending a lot more time leveling up my characters.  After all this time, I’m finally growing.  I’m finally challenging myself to new ways of playing and new strategies that are miles ahead of when I started out all those years ago with Final Fantasy X.

After defeating such foes as the Antlion and the Trickster, I am finally returning to the Mosphoran Highwaste to hunt a few more Marks and to finally continue with a plot I usually forget is even there.  I think I understand now why I’m more focused on hunting the Marks than the game’s actual story.  These hunts represent my personal challenge to improve, and every Mark I take down is further proof that I am succeeding.  Now, I just need to figure out what I can use Techniques for.

The Duck Just Wishes There Was a Magic Spell to Remove Calories from Food…


  1. Chris Scott says:

    I fell off FFXII years ago after grinding for 10 hours straight and losing the thread of the plot. I’m moderately excited to give it a second chance in July when the HD remaster comes out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      It’s really easy to forget the main story in this game since there are so many extra things to do. I…mostly have no idea what’s going on anymore. And yeah, I’m rather curious to see what the HD remake is going to be like. I wonder if the dialogue will sound better. The character’s voices sounded a bit muffled in the original PS2 version of the game.

      Liked by 1 person

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