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Fresh off the smash success of Tactics Ogre for the Super Famicom, top developers at Quest were hired by Square to create a similar game with a Final Fantasy theme. In January 1998, the result of this project was released as Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation. The game introduced most westerners to tactical RPGs and remains a fan favorite to this day. Ramza Beoulve, a young nobleman, is caught up in the machinations of civil war in the kingdom of Ivalice. While others around him attempt to manipulate the situation for their own benefit, Ramza's motivation is simply to rescue his dear sister Alma, who has been captured by the Church for mysterious reasons.

 

Best time: 4:22 by John 'chessjerk' Kearsley IV on 2011-11-11, done in 31 segments.

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Author's comments:

Welcome to the latest update for my Final Fantasy Tactics speed run! This run saves about 22 minutes over the previous run. The comments below are more detailed for the first chapter (where most of the changes and improvements are) and less detailed for the rest of the game (which is mostly the same as before).

Major changes for this run are:

Ramza's Zodiac sign (Scorpio vs. Cancer)
Ramza's Faith is not modified (vs. increased to 80 in the previous run)
More efficient use of generics (they stay with one setup instead of changing setups during Chapter 1)
Better battle strategies (detailed below)
Slightly different battle strategies due to Zodiac change (Barius Valley, Igros Castle, etc.)

Individual segment comments follow:

Segment 1: Orbonne Monastery

The opening battle is mostly uncontrollable, so my goal is to do the best I can and hope the AI doesn't waste time by healing, casting spells, missing attacks, or wandering around doing nothing. This run is pretty good, although it does lack the flavor of four consecutive critical hits that the previous speed run had.

Segment 2: Gariland Magic City

However, just getting a good time on the opening battle isn't enough. I also need particular team qualities to quickly accomplish my future goals. The basic qualities I am looking for include:

High faith on the chemists (74 is the highest possible)
Delita and the chemists don't have Defend equipped
Delita has Throw Stone already learned (see segment 3)
An average of 150 or more starting Job Points for Ramza in the following jobs:
Squire, Chemist, Priest, Wizard, Time Mage, Oracle, Calculator

One of the most important considerations at this point is Job Points. After the initial Orbonne battle concludes, the party is set with a random amount of JP between 100 and 199 in all of the jobs in the game. Therefore, with each decent start that I have, I have to play the game forward and unlock all of Ramza's relevant classes (Priest, Wizard, Time Mage, Oracle, and Calculator) to see what his starting JP is in each of those classes. If the result isn't sufficient, I have to start over from the beginning. Obviously, having them all at 199 or as high as possible would seem to be the best for speed run purposes, but this is not necessarily the case.

Over the course of the game, after Ramza attains the use of Math Skill, most battles will be over in one action (sometimes two for Zodiac boss battles). Therefore, I am able to predict what Ramza's experience level will be throughout the run. The key level in this run is level 18, as this is the level when Ramza as a Wizard gains a speed point. In my testing, I've found that Ramza MUST be level 18 before reaching the Izlude fight in Orbonne Monastery in Chapter three. If he is not level 18, Ramza cannot kill Izlude in one turn before Izlude's friends all take their turns (costing a lot of time). Also, if I plan to use "Level" as a parameter in a particular battle, I try to have Ramza's level not equal to a level where he is targeted (although this isn't possible in all scenarios). Therefore, Ramza's level after I finish grinding Calculator JP must be at least level 14 with 73 experience, meaning that having too high of JP in various classes might prevent Ramza from getting to the required level. Also, since it is preferable for Ramza not to be level 18 for the Save Olan battle in Chapter three (Ramza needs to have 6 speed for that battle, so if he gets to level 18 too soon, I would have to change his class to a slower class, such as Summoner), his level cannot be higher than level 15 with 45 experience, or else he gets to level 18 too soon.

In this particular instance, Ramza's starting JP in the above-mentioned classes is 188, 116, 135, 144, 192, 147, and 190 (average 158.86), which is a pretty good draw. It is a shame that Chemist has the lowest JP, but all of the other qualities I look for are present, so I run with it. The consequence of this is that the Chemists must spend time in this battle de-equipping and punching the enemy Chemist to get Ramza Chemist JP via spillover (when a unit earns JP, every ally of that unit earns 25% of that JP in the acting unit's class). Since Ramza needs to get to 400 Squire JP anyway, the only time loss is the actual de-equipping and the acting instead of waiting in battle.

This battle seems to take a while no matter what I do. Ramza needs to get to 400 Squire JP (to learn Yell and Gained JP UP) and 200 Chemist JP (so that he gets to Chemist level 2 and thus Priest and Wizard are open for him in the next battle). Luckily, the enemy Chemist has infinite potions, so Ramza can wail on him at will until the required JP is earned.

Segment 3: Mandalia Plains

The next five segments are the ever exciting "Yell for JP" grinding segments. Luckily, there is still some strategy involved to keep your attention. First, this segment marks the first use of the "JP Scroll Glitch." Quickly recapping the procedure for the glitch:

1. On the "Learn Ability" screen, select a skill that can be learned.
2. Before confirmation, hold square and press down; the skill list will shift downward to a skill that cannot be learned.
3. Select "Yes" to confirm.
4. Cancel back to the job list screen; it should say that 0000 JP are available.
5. Cancel back to the unit screen and re-enter the job list screen, it should now say that 9999 JP are available.

Naturally, this glitch cannot be used on classes where the skill list is not longer than one page. This means that Calculator cannot be glitched, much to my chagrin.

Second, I must choose not to save Algus. This allows Ramza to kill Algus to speed up the battle. It also gets Ramza a Brave boost, which helps MP Switch activate more often in future battles.

Third, I must set up Delita to act a particular way in order to draw the enemies (along with Delita and Algus) together in the middle of the map. This is done by making sure that he knows the skill "Throw Stone". With it, he attacks an enemy on the first turn and draws Algus to the middle of the map as well. Without it, Delita and Algus run away from the battle, making it harder to get the enemies to group together in a way for my powerful wizards to nuke them all quickly.

Segment 4: Sweegy Woods

A similar strategy is used here. Let Delita and Algus draw the enemies together, then nuke them all with powerful magic. The reason for buying everyone Leather Outfits (even though they don't give an MP bonus) will be clear in the next segment. Also, Ramza doesn't Yell all the way up to Wizard level 4, since the generic Wizards' actions in the next two battles will get him to Wizard level 4 via spillover.

Segment 5: Dorter Trade City

This is a normally a tough battle under any circumstances, and grinding for JP makes it even more so. Since I bought the Leather Outfits in the previous segment and Delita is stripped of his items here, the longbow Archer at the top of the battlefield targets Delita instead of the generic wizards. Other than that, just nuke the enemies and Yell for JP. Also, I have a choice of going for Time Mage JP or Oracle JP. Since Ramza's starting JP was higher in Time Mage, I turn him into a Time Mage since it takes less time to get to Time Mage level 3 than it would take to get him to Oracle level 3.

Segment 6: Sand Rat Cellar

Delita becomes a Knight and Algus becomes a Chemist to prevent Delita from using Throw Stone (which can disrupt the pattern of the enemies), to strip Algus of his armor (lowering his max HP), and to reduce Algus' move stat to 4 (also ensuring a particular enemy movement pattern). Despite my planning, many tries are needed to get high Faith on the enemies so that Bolt 2 and Bolt 3 kill everyone in one shot. The final enemy Monk having Throw Stone somewhat extended the battle, but not too much.

Segment 7: Sweegy Woods (random battle)

Here is the only random battle I fight in the entire run. The goal is to get Ramza the required Calculator JP and experience level. I promise that this is the last segment with Yelling. The ideal situation is to get a random battle on the first try and have that battle only contain a lone Black Goblin. Even though the odds of this series of events occurring are less than 1%, I'm still disappointed that I couldn't get it to happen. I settle for a random battle on the third try with a Black Goblin and a Bomb. Ramza uses Wish on the enemy near the end to ensure that he gets enough Calculator JP and that his level is within the limits previously mentioned.

Segment 8: End of Chapter 1

Suddenly, Ramza is all alone. But, with the ever powerful Math Skill at his disposal, the enemies don't stand a chance. For reference, here's a list of the skills that Ramza learns and the reasons for each one:

Action abilities:
1. Squire - Yell: This is the cheapest self-targeting ability that is easily obtained, and it is used for raising levels and earning JP. I toyed with the idea of going for Accumulate (since it has a faster animation), but it takes 100 more JP to get than Yell and it doesn't increase Ramza's speed (which helps with the longer grinding battles to get Ramza more turns than the other units on the battlefield). Grinding for both Yell and Accumulate is possible, but I doubt that the time spent getting it saves enough time later on to make it worthwhile.
2. Priest - Holy: This is the most powerful calculable attack spell, it is unevadable, and it can be strengthened by equipment that does not raise Magic Attack (i.e. Excalibur). However, the animation takes significantly longer than the other attack spells at my disposal. It is only used when Flare does not hit hard enough or when I need to bypass significant enemy magic evasion.
3. Wizard - Ice 3: This is only used in two battles: the Araguay Woods battle and the Zirekile Falls battle (both in Chapter 2). At Araguay, Ice 3 targets the enemy goblins' Ice weakness and allows Boco to live (he would die if hit with Flare). At Zirekile, Flare cannot be used since Ovelia has best Zodiac compatibility with Ramza and dies from the spell. Ice 3 lets her live, as well as killing off Agrias and an enemy Knight, thus shortening the battle.
4. Wizard - Flare: This is the main damage dealer throughout the run. It is the second-most powerful calculable spell (behind Holy) and it has a very short animation, but it is evadable and cannot be strengthened except by raising Magic Attack through equipment or by equipping Magic Attack UP.
5. Time Mage - Quick: This is only used once at the Bethla Sluice battle in Chapter 4, and it is used to instantly gain a turn, hit both switches, and open the floodgates before the enemy can do anything important.
6. Time Mage - Demi: This deals damage equal to 25% of the target's maximum HP. It is only used against the final boss, since it requires a minimum of four actions to kill it (due to having over 3,000 HP and damage is capped at 999).
7. Time Mage - Demi 2: This is similar to Demi, except it has a lower hit rate and deals damage equal to 50% of the target's maximum HP. It is used mainly against Zodiac bosses who cannot be killed by one spell, since two uses of Demi 2 kill anything in the game (besides the final boss, as mentioned above).
8. Calculator - Math Skill (all abilities except Exp): The parameters used for Math Skill include: CT, Level, and Height. The factors used are: Prime Numbers, 5, 4, and 3. The parameter Exp isn't learned because while enemy levels are generally fixed, experience within those levels is not, so it is not a dependable factor to use. The general strategy for using Math Skill in battle depends on the objective of a particular battle (detailed below).

Reaction ability:
MP Switch: This converts any HP damage to MP damage. It is useful when Ramza targets himself with attack spells (ensuring that he doesn't kill himself). It doesn't always activate, though (like most reaction abilities, it activates a percentage of the time equal to Ramza's Brave stat, so, for most of the run, it will activate 71% of the time).

Support abilities:
1. Gained JP UP: This increases JP gain by 50%. It is useful to speed up the Chapter 1 JP grinding.
2. Magic Attack UP: In general, this increases magic damage by 33%. It also slightly increases the hit rate of Ramza's percentage-based attacks (i.e. Quick, Demi, and Demi 2).

Movement abilities:
1. Move MP UP: Ramza gains MP when moving on the battlefield. It is very useful in combination with MP Switch to ensure that Ramza always has MP to spare if he needs it to activate more than once in a particular battle.
2. Teleport: This increases Ramza's movement range while ignoring terrain and enemy units, but with an increasing risk of failure the farther away Ramza tries to move. It is only useful at Bethla Sluice for the same reason as Quick.

Battle strategies with Math Skill:

In boss battles (or "Defeat X!" battles): Find a Math Skill combination that hits only the specified enemy to end the battle. If no combination exists, find the combination that hits the least number of other units.

In escort battles (or "Save/Protect X!" battles): Find a combination that hits all relevant enemies and not the unit to be saved/protected. If no combination exists, some battle manipulation may be needed to quickly end the battle (see the Zirekile battle in Chapter 2 and the Goland battle in Chapter 3).

In normal battles (or "Defeat all enemies!" battles): An explanation of how a battle progresses is helpful to explain what happens here. The unit of time in battle in called a "clocktick". For every clocktick that passes, all units gain CT equal to their speed. When a unit's CT reaches 100, it is their turn to act. Knowing that CT can be used as a parameter for Math Skill, I can manipulate CT is order to hit everyone on the battlefield at once.

There are two possibilities here. In the first scenario, I try to gain a speed advantage over all of the enemies and adjust Ramza's effective speed to 12, 9, or 7. With any of these speed values, Ramza acts first on the 9th, 12th, or 15th clocktick, respectively. Since all of these clockticks are divisible by 3, every unit's CT will be divisible by 3, and can thus be hit with the combination CT 3. Also, when a unit reaches 100 CT, that unit is treated as having exactly 100 CT for the purposes of Math Skill (instead of that unit's actual CT), so Ramza will not hit himself in this scenario, but all enemies will get hit with a spell (usually Flare) and die.

If Ramza cannot gain a speed advantage over the enemies, then the second scenario comes into play. Ramza goes with a 7 speed setup (acting on the 15th clocktick) and uses CT 5, which is guaranteed to hit everyone on the field (including Ramza). Hopefully, MP Switch or magic evasion (if any) prevents Ramza from killing himself.

The only battle where defeating enemies is optional is the Bethla Sluice battle in Chapter 4. The objective here is to have Ramza stop on two specific panels during the course of battle. Here, Math Skill isn't needed. Ramza teleports to the first square, casts Quick on himself, then teleports to the second square to end the battle.

Segments 9 to 16: Chapter 2

This chapter is very similar to the previous speed run. The reason for the high number of segments is small optimizations that are available. These include:

Delita knowing Lightning Stab at Zirekile Falls
Mustadio knowing Seal Evil for the Zigolas Swamp battle

In the previous speed run, I reduced Ramza's Magic Attack before the Barius Valley battle to a point where Flare doesn't kill Agrias. However, with the Zodiac sign change, Ramza now has good compatibility with Agrias, so that strategy won't work. Now, to make sure she survives, she must block the fatal CT 3 Flare with her Mythril Shield at a 5% chance.

Segments 17 to 20: Chapter 3

Chapter 3 is the same as the previous run. Most of it is simple, except for the Goland Coal City battle, since Flare would kill Olan. Ramza needs 6 speed for my strategy to work. If Olan uses Galaxy Stop and it hits both Chemists, CT 4 Flare hits everyone and not Olan.

Segments 21 to 31: Chapter 4

Again, this chapter is mostly the same as before. However, I need a new strategy for Dycedarg at Igros Castle, since Ramza only has neutral compatibility to him (instead of good from the previous run). In any event, he is still easy, as Holy plus an attack from Zalbag is enough to take him out. A good consequence of the Zodiac sign change is now Rofel dies in one turn instead of two at Orbonne 5th floor (since Ramza now has neutral compatibility to him instead of worst), and thus I avoid watching all of the enemies take their turns.

Finally, the ending is also recorded this time, which I felt was an oversight from the previous run.

I hope you enjoy the run. Thanks as always to everyone involved in the processing of the run!

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