(disclaimer: if shit messes up because of BOLD blame the forums not me, I will try to re-edit accordingly.)
So over the past week I've been debating to make this thread or not but there seems to be an overwhelming number of people that hit chapter 11 and seem to have a ridiculous amount of trouble with the game from that point on. I've heard it here and I've also heard it from friends who say they (and their friends) constantly die on trash mobs and bosses, which just seems crazy to me. I've mentioned it elsewhere but once I hit chapter 11 I did 2 missions before saying "fuck it" and moving on with the main story. So from that point on all the way until I beat the final boss (which for the record only took me 4 tries) I was always under-leveled and bosses were a constant challenge. I never got a 5 star rating on a boss (1 exception to that but I won't go into it because of spoilers) past this point but I also rarely struggled on a boss. I beat most of them just shy of the average time and got 1-3 stars.
Just to drive this point home when fighting the final boss my team was Lightning/Snow/Hope with: Lightning: Max COM/just starting level 9 of Rav/Not to final level of Med/up to deprotect/deshell/imperil SAB. Snow: Max Sen, starting final area of Com, in next to last area of Rav. And Hope who was max nothing but in the final area of all default classes.
That said, these tips are for:
- People who can make their own party and beyond
- These tips assume you haven't went out of your way to grind
- People actually having trouble with fights (so if you aren't, good work, feel free to contribute to my basic ideas if you so desire)
- Those of you who like myself just wanted to complete the main story before going after the "endgame"
So here are random and unorganized tips for combat to hopefully make your life easier:
Use Snow or Fang, at least 1 but not both: This should almost be self explanatory but there seems to be a large group of people who don't know how mandatory a Sentinel is for numerous battles. They have some amazing abilities that can make large amounts of damage to your party simply never happen. Their shining use is on groups of enemies that hit fast, lightly, and have small hp. In these situations a Sen can take care of themselves as a Rav and Com pick off enemies one by one. In most cases you should never have to heal them and can just breeze through a battle. Also only use 1 of them, there is no need for 2 characters with such similar class makeups. I prefer Snow because he can be a Ravager without needless grinding (more on that later) but Fang is fine too, statistically speaking I believe she is actually better than Snow anyway.
Repeat > Auto-chain (AKA using Auto-chain smartly): Yes, from me you had to know this one was coming and it is still for good tested reasons. Since the launch of the game I have been a strong advocate of playing the game by yourself and not getting used to auto-battle. I can clearly see the effects of this on me compared to others but I digress. Here are reasons to use either. Auto-chain is only good when you know what the AI is going to use. The best example is when fighting a staggered enemy and you switch to a Commando. Chances are the AI is going to chain nothing but attack together so there is no reason to input these commands yourself. The biggest (imo) problem with auto-chain is when using a melee focused character such as Lightning or Snow the AI wants to do 2 no-nos when they are Ravagers: Alternate between elemental strikes and normal magic, and use Aero. Both of these are problematic and is where Repeat comes in. So you're hasted and you have a full ATB but the enemy has full HP? "waste" one turn to assign the correct attacks (in my case I spam the elemental strike they are weak too, if there is not one I use aquastrike since it is at the bottom of the list) and then from every turn then on just use the Repeat function (this is done by holding right while on the skills menu and pressing A (360) and X (PS3).
The game has an amazing feature that is sadly not mentioned anywhere I can find in the game. Your last set of commands is saved on a class by class basis until the end of battle. So if you string together aquastrike as a Ravager and then go to Commando for the stagger portion, when you return to a Ravager you can still hit repeat to use your aquastrikes.
Juggle them mofos: This one sort-of ties into the last thing in that you need to actually play the game, not let it play itself. When you stagger an enemy that can be launched you need to keep it launched. This will allow the enemy to never attack you or use any special abilities. If there is only 1 enemy remaining I find it absolutely mandatory to use 2 Commandos and a Ravager. This is so you will have 2 characters that can Launch if an enemy somehow manages to fall. What I do is time my attacks around the other Commando (assuming you are playing one of the commandos) so when he is done attacking and falling to the ground I jump into the air to keep the enemy there. This works flawlessly 90% of the time.
3 Ravagers are amazing: This is actually something I learned thanks to lovely other GB users and once I got used to it I never went back. When you are in a situation where you need to kill fast and you aren't taking a bunch of damage 3 ravagers are amazing. They can build a stagger meter insanely fast, especially if you are using Lightning's Lionheart (maybe other characters have similar weapons I have no idea). This is why I suggest using Snow over Fang unless you want to do some grinding. ANYTIME you are in a situation where you are just burning a single opponent you should have at least 2 Ravagers until the enemy is staggered, of course 3 is optimal though.
Hope is amazing: Whether you hate him or not there is no denying Hope is an amazing character in combat. For the majority of the game he is the only character that can put protect, shell, and veil on your party members which are absolutely overpowered on many fights. He also gets access to Faith and Bravery before you beat the game so he can cast all the "awesome" buffs on your party. To top that off he is an amazing healer and a ravager to boot. He brings an excellent balance to any party and even though as characters I liked Sazh and Vanille more until you go off into grind land Hope just brings more to the party than either of those 2 can. Sazh's ability to be a Com and Rav are nice but don't mesh well considering both Snow and Lightning can as well while also bringing something better to the party (Med and Sen). Vanille brings a Sab to the party instead of a Syn which just isn't as good as a Syn in the long run. Many enemies are just flat out immune to deprotect and deshell which make the opposites (Bravery and Faith) much more superior.
Accessories: As I mentioned before I did not max out many of the classes before beating the game but one thing I DID do was make it far enough to unlock extra accessory slots. Accessories are (obviously) amazing and imo much more important than what weapons you are using. However, you need to use the proper ones. My advice: keep it simple. As a primary Commando I had Lightning with +str accessories in every slot, Snow as a Sen with damage reducing and +hp accessories, and Hope with +magic. Some fights did call for me to change some of these which is another important factor. If a boss is going to say spam daze on you, equip anti-daze items.
Abuse the Ooze: There is an excellent guide on the forums for upgrading gear. However, to keep it simple for just going through the story: Buy 36 vibrant ooze and then a bunch of the items from the Garage that cost 1,600 (actual name slips my mind atm, but I believe it is the only item that is that cheap). I suggest maxing out your characters accessories. It is nice to wear multiple Shaman eyes on Hope that give him an extra 3-400 magic. It makes a huge difference in combat.
Lightning is a great Sab: It is no stretch of the imagination that a lot of people are using Lightning. She's hot, she's the main character, she has a sword, and she is quite strong. If you are like myself and didn't have a Sab in your party (aka you don't use Vanille or Fang) Lightning is an excellent choice. You can get the 2 most important debuffs without ever having to go out of your way to grind. Both deprotect and deshell come very early into the Sab tree and it makes Lightning a very OP character in any party that doesn't involve Fang or Vanille.
Abuse Scourge/Smite: These (or at least one of them, I forget which atm) are absolutely amazing ways to shave off HP on enemies and why 2 Coms/Rav are what I consider mandatory for bosses. When you are nearing the end of a stagger meter your Commandos will use these attacks that do insane amounts of damage. If an opponent has deprotect on them they will surely take 99,999 damage. There is rarely an excuse not to do 99,999 with 2 different commandos when an opponent is about to recover from a stagger. If you are lucky or that good at timing (I consider it impossible to actually time it personally) you can get 2 scourges in. So yes you read that correctly: There have been times where I did 99,999 x4 damage at the end of a stagger meter, rarely can a normal enemy live through this and it shaves off insane amounts of boss HP.
Remember all the tools you are given: The biggest change in FF13 compared to past games is how the fat is trimmed off. Instead of piles and piles of useless spells and upgrades you just have the basics. That is not to say things are simple, there are still plenty of spells but unlike other games EVERY SPELL AND SKILL in FF13 has a use. You need to know when it's better to use Ruin or Attack and Fire or Flamestrike, you need to buff and debuff, you need to have a tank. Basically you have to use all the abilities you are given in the game there is nothing useless.
Use a Synergist: Whether you use Hope (which I suggest) or Sazh you need to have a Syn in your party for defensive buffs. Protect and Shell are AMAZING even in normal battles. They can often times remove the need to heal or even use a Sen for the entirety of a fight. Any fight you know is going to last a long amount of time you should start it by letting a Syn cast haste, protect, and shell on all 3 of your party members. It may eat up a chunk of time at the start of a fight but afterwards it can end it quickly for those lovely 5 stars.
Good Class Combinations: Using the correct class makeup at the correct time is what FF13 is all about. So here are what I consider must-have for a lot of situations and what I ended up using the most at chapter 11 and beyond:
-A "setup" class. In my case Sab/Sen/Syn. This should a) never be your default class b) always be the first thing you switch to on 90% of bosses. These are obviously for setting up your buffs and debuffs. I suggest a Sen because you will rarely need to heal when buffing with one. If you do not have both a Syn and a Sab I suggest using a Med in the last slot. This will 100% assure you don't have to change classes while setting up.
-Com/Com/Rav. This is the best class combination to make default. You should always be trying to get pre-emptive strikes and having 2 commandos is a must for when you do get one. With double blitz and 2 Commandos always going for different targets you can keep those stagger meters high while also picking off enemies one by one. This class is also the best class to use on bosses you stagger. With bravery, deprotect, and a ravager constantly raising the stagger meter the 2 commandos will average 35k hits and will always scourge/smite for 99,999.
-3 Ravs. Went over this before.
-Med/Med/Sen. Besides using a summon this is the ultimate oh shit button. You will be able to Cura a party to near full HP in a matter of seconds. Also dual esuna is a life saver.
-Com/Rav/Sen. This combination is excellent for when you are taking large chunks of damage but need to keep attacking. Especially later in the game Fang and Snow can get insanely high amounts of HP and can self-heal quite effectively.
-Com/Sen/Med. To best describe the only use for this: "I needed to keep healing and tanking but the stagger meter was about to fall, oh shit! "
Don't allow the stagger meter to drop: This is another one of those "obvious" ones but I feel it needs reinforcing. There is never an excuse for the stagger meter to drop in any situation unless you are daze-locked. If you are going through a slow burn and rebuffing/debuffing or healing just quickly switch in a Com and attack a few times. It makes a world of difference in the long run.
Basic combat strategies: All of those tips are nice sure, but putting them all to good use and mastering the combat is what will make life easier for you. This is mostly for boss fights but can be applied to many other fights especially "killer trash mobs". For starters you will want to setup. Have your Syn get at least Haste/Protect or Shell/Bravery and Faith on your party. If you have a Sab use Libra on an opponent to see if you can deprotect or deshell it. If it is not immune to either spam deshell until you have it up there. If the opponent has a very short stagger meter (say anything under 300) then go ahead and get deprotect up there as well. if they have a longer meters wait until they are near their stagger limit to get deprotect up so you can assure it will be there the entirety of a stagger.
For the actual stagger plan around the length. If it is a long stagger meter use as many ravagers as you can for a short while to build it up then quickly switch your commandos in to start obliterating the mob. If not it is best to use 2 commandos and 1 ravager to get as much damage in as you can. When the meter is low pay attention and make sure you absolutely get attacks in right when the meter is almost gone for scourge/smite.
Those are really just the basics for making most bosses a cake-walk. Obviously every boss is different and requires slightly modified strategies and other class combinations (for example many bosses I found it mandatory to always have a Sen) but this is the bare-bone basics.
And that is all I can think of right now, once again I should reinforce this is for people that are having trouble with the game, if you're not then good work I didn't have much trouble either so *high five*. It is not hard but you have to use your brain a little. You can't go through the entire thing with brute force where half of your spells never get used like many other RPGs. All the fat in FF13 has been trimmed away and every spell and skill has a specific use at a specific time. If anyone else has excellent suggestions go for it.