Final Fantasy XII Tips & Tricks: The Ultimate ListThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
The Zodiac Age is an expansive game, to say the least.
It’s easy to get into (especially with all the information in this guide!), but it also has that high complexity value that can justify at least a second playthrough, if not more.
So if you’re interested in jumping into FFXII as a first timer, or if you’re returning to experience the remastered version, here are some spoiler-free tips to make your journey through Ivalice the best it can be!
10. Explore to Your Heart’s Content
Many of the game’s maps are open and begging to be explored.
Much like earlier entries in the series, FF12 rewards wanderlust with copious amounts of loot, which is arguably more important than ever before.
You’ll need a hefty sum of cash to afford everything you want – especially early on. So don’t be afraid to take a detour.
Maybe, just maybe, that tiny nook in the corner holds the last 2,000 gil you need to buy that new weapon.
On another note, there are maps you can obtain that will give you the layout for each zone.
Exploring the dead ends and inconspicuous areas will sometimes give you more valuable loot than chests might otherwise yield (even if they look the same), like equipment, technicks, or magic.
Be on the lookout for teal-colored urns and Moogles of the Cartographers Guild to procure these maps.
9. Talk to Everyone
Just like all the areas you have to explore, there are tons of NPCs worth talking to!
Much of the dialogue compounds with the events of the story, and while you can more or less get the gist of it after a few, each NPC offers at least a little bit of extra information.
Besides that, many of the game’s side quests are given by the various inhabitants of Ivalice. So keep an eye out.
8. Don’t Underestimate Steal
You’ll probably notice that many of the characters start with the move Steal.
This isn’t just a coincidence – Steal is an invaluable move.
Alongside exploring for those sweet treasure chests, you’ll encounter tons of enemies.
They do drop items, so stealing isn’t exactly necessary. But each enemy can be forced to fork over 1 additional item, guaranteed, if you’re inclined to make them. Depending on how masochistic you are, you’ll find manually inputting the command is the most consistent way to line your pockets.
But for those who prefer to make liberal use of the gambit system, a popular setup is to have Foe: HP = 100% > Steal close to the top of the priority list.
I like to also have my main thief, usually Vaan, set to Foe: Nearest Visible > Attack one priority lower, so that he doesn’t waste too much time trying to Steal from empty pockets.
Because remember, 1 loot per monster…. with a few exceptions. Like when a monster has a cutscene like the first hunt, Rogue Tomato, you can snag extra after the cutscene.
But with these gambits setup, as the rest of the party starts to blast the baddie and drops his HP below 100%, Vaan joins in to help finish it off before moving onto the next Steal target.
There are variations of this setup that might make more sense for your playstyle. So just experiment with it for a bit and see what works.
7. Items are Amazing!
I’d argue that items in this game are better than they’ve ever been.
They’re at least more important, as shown with the importance of steal, loot, and the bazaar.
You can supplement much of your team’s recovery with potions, and the various status ailment recovery items, of which you’ll get great from.
A few of the jobs even have licenses that boost the recovery of potions, phoenix downs, and remedies – great for helping your healer in a pinch.
If you’re like me and have always hoarded items for a situation that’ll never come, this is a great game to help break the habit.
6. Take the Time to Understand Gambits
This is close to my biggest recommendation for this game.
If you’re coming into FF12 as a fresh player and you’re unsure about whether or not you’ll enjoy it (especially if that worry stems from some of the less traditional combat of, say, FF13 or FF15), then understanding the gambit system will allow you to be well equipped to at least make up your mind about the gameplay portion.
Gambits are what other games will sometimes call tactics, or real-life humans will call “operations”.
Essentially, they’re a set of rules that dictate the way your party will approach combat.
It starts off simple: most party members will simply attack whatever target your party leader is attacking.
Everything else is manual by default – spells, items, technicks, etc.
With gambits, though, you can automate it all while still having the option of manual input if you need.
Once you’ve unlocked them, you’ll notice an overwhelming number of options available to you – and not nearly enough Gambit slots on your characters to work with.
I’d recommend starting with basic recovery Gambits, picking up status effect recoveries early on, and continuing into more advanced ones like weaknesses and buffs.
5. Keep Your Own Journal
This tip is kind of weird and probably depends on whether or not you plan on binging the entire game or not.
Ironically, for a setting both technologically advanced and aided by magic, there’s no in-game journal that records your progress.
There is a Clan Primer for keeping track of the various monster hunts you accept, and a hint about what to do next on your map page… but that’s where the tracking stops.
I’d recommend that upon finishing each gaming session, you make a quick note about what you did and where you’re going next. Just in case the hint’s specificity is lacking, or if you were trying to do a side quest, since they oftentimes span long lengths of time across multiple areas you may not have access to right away.
4. Make a Balanced Team
You’ll eventually have 6 controllable party members, each a blank slate for you to customize the way you want.
However, Final Fantasy 12 is somewhat restrictive in that you’ll only be able to field three of them at a time.
What’s worse is that the benched members don’t get experience.
So you’re actively encouraged to swap them out for them to grow together.
What this means from a gameplay perspective is that you’ll need any combination of 3 to be able to survive together.
There are a few things to note here:
– It’s not hugely important to min/max. Each character does have their strengths and weaknesses stats-wise, but they’re very negligible.
– Balthier and Fran both shoot ever so slightly slower than the rest of the party, for instance.
– Balthier and Basch have stats that favor physical builds, whereas Penelo and Ashe have stats that favor magic.
– That leaves Vaan and Fran as the most balanced & capable to really accommodate any weaknesses, if min/maxing is your groove.
Far into the license board, you’ll also unlock access to a second license board. And this is the decision that matters a lot.
The first and second boards share similar abilities, so if you unlock Light Armor 1 for Shikari, it will also unlock the same Light Armor 1 license for Archer (or whatever you pick for your second job).
On one hand, you can use this to your advantage and essentially work backwards, picking up the stronger licenses on your second board by acquiring high-tier licenses on your first board.
But on the other hand, you can shore up any of the weaknesses of your first license.
Maybe you’ll find your particular strategy just doesn’t have enough healing?
Feel free to take some healing licenses on your otherwise non-magical character.
The key is to experiment, and remember that even if you make a mistake, you can reset your license board at Clan Centurio.
We also have recommendations for second license boards depending on whatever first job you picked for each party member. So if you want suggestions for job combos you can check these out below:
- Knight Job Combos
- Monk Job Combos
- Bushi Job Combos
- Shikari Job Combos
- Uhlan Job Combos
- Archer Job Combos
- Machinist Job Combos
- Foebreaker Job Combos
- Black Mage Job Combos
- White Mage Job Combos
- Time Battlemage Job Combos
- Red Battlemage Job Combos
3. Manage Your Equipment Carefully
As I mentioned, you can easily reset your license board if you so choose.
However, this comes with the downside that unless you’ve prepared in advance, you likely haven’t picked up optimal armor or weapons for your new job.
This goes back to the tip on Steal and the importance of loot – they’ll be your main source of income.
So if you prefer to skip gil grinding, I’d recommend reviewing the license board to see what you might like to obtain and plan ahead.
2. Do the Hunts
I feel this tip is worth mentioning on the merit of how bad the first few hunt rewards are.
I know, it seems boring at first.
But don’t be discouraged!
The hunt rewards are some of the best in the game.
It’s also worth mentioning that certain hunts have valuable Steal loot if you’re really up for a challenge.
1. Use All Your Tools
Gambits, special equipment, Libra, weaknesses, buffs, debuffs, and much more are yours to use to exploit at every turn.
Some monsters, particularly bosses and hunts, will require new strategies to win.
So try and have access to as many different tools as you can by doing as many of the game’s activities as possible.
And don’t forget that you can have up to 3 different sets of gambits that you’re allowed to freely switch through on every character.
This is especially useful if you know you’re fighting enemies with specific status effects or weaknesses, and otherwise just want to maximize your available gambit slots with basic recovery or damage commands.