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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age - Best Jobs for each Playable Character and Job System primer

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age's job system is pretty complicated - the International Zodiac Job System already broadened things from the original version of FF12, and The Zodiac Age broadens things even further still by allowing each member of FF12's cast to choose from two different jobs.

This adds a massive amount of variety, and we've covered some of the best job combinations on a separate page already. Hit that page up if you want to know what FF12 The Zodiac Age jobs go best together.

There is another little wrinkle in the excellent gameplay systems of The Zodiac Age, however - not all of the playable characters in FF12 are born equal. Some are far better at certain things than others, meaning you might want to think carefully about who you give each job to. 

On this page, we go through the cast and detail what they're naturally good at - and that should help you to pick the right class to make the best party of characters.The differences aren't enormous, but they are enough to be worth at least some consideration. Beyond that, we also examine which individual classes are the best starters and look at what all of the jobs are good at in general.

FF12: The Zodiac Age - Job System Character Strengths & Weaknesses

Vaan: The Jack of all Trades

Vaan might not exactly have much agency in the story of FF12, this player-insert character is actually really useful in battle thanks to the fact that he is a complete 'everyman' - where everyone else has things that they outright suck at, Vaan is pretty decent at more or less everything, and in some cases even stands alongside the best in certain areas of combat.

Don't be afraid to be a little out-there with your job choice for Vaan as a result - while people like Ashe and Balthier have jobs and roles you'll definitely want them to fill, Vaan is a little easier to slot into your team make-up as whatever you need extra.

Combo-capable weapon users: Vaan, Balthier & Basch

The late game in FF12 in particular is focused on combo damage using the particularly powerful Genji Gloves items - and you only get two of these. All of the party member playable characters in the game have a natural affinity for how well they can lean into this combo system, and generally speaking the guys in FF12's party are better at combos than the girls, resulting in higher damage output when you get your combo on.

That means that Vaan, Balthier & Basch are all pretty damn good when equipped with both Genji Gloves and weapons that have a high combo potential such as Pole-arm weapons, Katana or Ninja Swords. This makes them the ideal choice for classes like the Bushi, Uhlan or Shikari classes. Given how important Genji Gloves are and that there are two of these items in the game, you should set at least two of these three to focus on this type of class.

The Obvious Mages: Ashe & Penelo

This one is really pretty obvious, although you do see Ashe fight with a sword often too - but FF6's Terra was also a magic-driven sword user, so the series has form for it. Ashe and Penelo are your natural mages thanks to the fact they both have strong magic stats - and generally speaking, we tend to go for Ashe for black magic and Penelo for white, just because it seems to fit. Black or White Mages should be your first choices, with second class options including the other mage types, or you can go for something more experimental.

Ashe has a more tanky nature to her in general, which makes her an ideal candidate for combining that mage job with a non-mage physical job to get the best of both worlds. Penelo is really better off as a more pure and focused mage in an ideal setup.

Fran: Master of None

While the differences between the playable characters aren't enormous, Fran is by far and away the one with the least utility across the board. She's not outright bad at anything, but she doesn't particularly excel in any area and unlike Vaan isn't quite 'great' at everything despite that. This jack-of-all-trades nature and the fact she's 'natively' a bow user in the lore makes her a pretty natural fit with bows or guns, which in turn serves to make her ideal for a support character where you can later combine a class like Machinist with one like Time Battlemage to make her a bedrock of support for the rest of your cast.

The Best Jobs for each Character in FF12: The Zodiac Age

Or to put it another way from above, if you want to read this in an entirely different way... here's a list of suggested first-choice classes broken up by character - then cross-reference your choice with our job combinations guide when the time comes to pick a second job.

The Best Job for Vaan

Vaan is a jack of all trades as mentioned above, but he does have particularly good strength and he's great with combo weapons, as mentioned above. As such, we'd highly recommend Vaan for Bushi, Shikari or Uhlan. Vaan really can do anything, so he'd make a decent Mage but his physical abilities really aren't to be underestimated. Consider giving him a physical class and then giving him a magic-driven job for his second.

The Best Job for Ashe

Ashe is depicted using a sword in a lot of her official art and the like, but as mentioned before her stats really make her a more natural mage: her best classes are thus the Black Mage, White Mage or Red Battlemage and Time Battlemage - and we honestly recommend making her one of the 'pure' mage classes at first. Ashe is also pretty proficient with that sword, however, so she can do well as one of the physical classes with a high magic stat too such as the Bushi, Knight or Monk.

The Best Job for Penelo

Penelo, like Ashe, is a natural mage - and her general depiction in the game certainly makes her feel like your typical White Mage candidate. She'll also make a decent Black Mage, Red Battlemage or Time Battlemage, however. Penelo's stats also lend pretty well to her filling a support role as something like an Uhlan or Monk too.

The Best Job for Balthier

Balthier is a thief by nature, and he's a good cross-over between physical strength and speed in his base stats. He makes for a great Shikari or Knight thanks to his combo ability, and he also fits well as a Red Battlemage and better still as a Foebreaker for support. Despite being depicted with a gun in most of the art, we don't really feel like Balthier is much of a fit for Machinist, though it can make sense as his second job.

The Best Job for Basch

Basch is a soldier, and that means a lot of his best jobs are the obvious physical strength ones - make him a Shikari, Knight or Bushi and he'll do well - perhaps a little less as the latter. He can also be a decent Foebreaker thanks to his high natural damage output - he can weaken and annihilate enemies at the same time.

The Best Job for Fran

Fran isn't the best character in the game, but she still has a few natural roles - primarily as a Foebreaker, using break attacks to weaken enemies from a decent distance with a polearm. She also makes a great Archer, and if you combine these two with your second job choice you'll have a formiddable distance support fighter.

FF12: The Zodiac Age Job System - all about all 12 jobs / classes

These are our raw descriptions of each job in FF12: The Zodiac Age, plus some of the best skills available to unlock on the license board for that class. To learn more about actually picking a class, check out our page on the best jobs and the best job combinations.

White Mage (Aries): job summary & license board highlights

The White Mage is a classic Final Fantasy class, specialising in holy types of magic - the stuff that is most commonly used to heal allies. The White Mage class gets access to rods and mystic armor, plus all of the White Magicks and some Green Magicks to boot. While the white magic is generally used for healing, it can also be used to deal damage to undead enemies.

The white mage license board features some great licenses including:

  • Rod of Faith - allows you to equip the incredible Rod of Faith
  • Accessory 22 - Allows you to equip the Ring of Renewal
  • White Magick 1-13 - All the white magic you could want, culminating in Renewal.
  • Green Magick 1-3 - Several key green magic skills
  • Technicks: Libra (scan enemies), Achilles (add elemental weakness to enemy), Stamp (transfer active status effect)

Uhlan (Taurus): job summary & license board highlights

The Uhlan is a spear-wielding warrior class that closely resembles the classic Dragoon FF character job featured in other games. Uhlan get access to heavy armor, spears and some dark magic abilities, plus a few Black Magicks and a lot of Technicks.

Some of the Uhlan license board highlights are:

  • Dragon Whisker - allows you to equip the Dragon Whisker and Vrsahba
  • Strongest Halberd - allows you to equip the Zodiac Spear
  • Black Magick 5-7 - Allows use of spells like Fira, Poison, Thundara, Blizzara and Silencega, among others
  • Technicks: Bonecrusher (consume own HP to kill an enemy), Charm (confuse an enemy), Souleater (consume HP to damage enemy), Poach (Capture a critical HP enemy to get loot), Expose (Reduce enemy defense), Wither (reduce enemy attack)

Machinist (Gemini): job summary & license board highlights

The Machinist is a master of machines, as the name suggests, and that gives them access to guns as their main weapon. They also use Light Armor as well, and they also have access to ranged hand-bomb weapons, some Time Magic and Green Magic. They're a useful support class.

License board must-haves for the Machinist include:

  • Hand-bombs 3-4 - gives you access to some ranged weapons that aren't guns.
  • Time Magick 8-10 - gives access to Vanishga, Warp, Reflectga, Slowga, Graviga and Hastga
  • Green Magick 1 - lets you cast Decoy and Oil
  • Technicks: Libra (scan enemies), Numerology (damage up with successive hits), Steal (take items from enemy), Traveler (deals damage based on total steps taken), Horology (deals damage based on game timer)

Red Battlemage (Cancer): job summary & license board highlights

The Red Battlemage is your most diverse mage, having access to Arcane Magick, some Black, White, and Time Magick, plus a handful of Technicks. They can equip Maces, Greatswords and Mystic Armor to deal out physical punishment as well. They're a strong all-around party member.

Their license board is electic, and there are a lot of stand-out licenses:

  • Shell Shield - allows you to equip the excellent Shell Shield
  • Ensanguined Shield - allows you to equip another top-tier shield
  • Zodiac Escutcheon - lets you equip the Zodiac Escutcheon
  • White Magick 2-7 - allows for a range of low to medium level of white magic to be cast.
  • Black Magick 3-10 - allows for a range of low to mid-high black magic to be cast
  • Time Magick 1-3 - license to cast the likes of Slow, Immbobilize, Reflect, Disable, Vanish and Balance
  • Green Magick 1-3 - lets you cast several key green magic skills including Drain and Syphon
  • Arcane Magick 1-3 - license to cast dark magic skills including Darkga, Death, and Ardor

Knight (Leo): job summary & license board highlights

The Knight is exactly what you'd expect from the name - a sword-user who dishes out big damage while clad in heavy armor and, if you want, a shield in their off-hand. The knight gets access to some basic white magick but is mostly focused on physical damage, and has the native stats and a few technicks to match.

Highlights of the Knight job license board include:

  • Excalibur, Excalipoor, Tournesoul - three licenses that allow you to equip three important swords
  • Bloodsword, Bloodsword A - allows you to equip the Bloodsword and Karkata swords
  • Shell Shield, Ensanguined Shield, Zodiac Escutcheon - lets you equip this excellent gear
  • Genji Equipment - allows you to equip the practically game-breaking Genji Helm, Genji Shield, Genji Armor and Genji Gloves
  • White Magick 6-9 - available via an esper, gives you license to cast a decent set of mid-range white spells
  • Technicks: Telekinesis (deal ranged damage with melee weapons)

Monk (Virgo): job summary & license board highlights

Monks are known for fighting with their fists, but in FF12 you can also equip them with polearm weapons to go along with their light armor. They also gain access to a range of white magicks and a variety of helpful Technicks.

Here are some of the top Monk licenses on its board:

  • Whale Whisker - license to equip the Whale Whisker and Kanya weapons
  • White Magick 4, 9 - gives access to Cura, Raise, Bravery and Curaja
  • White Magick 10-13 - gives access to a range of high-end white spells including Holy, Protectga, Shellga and Renew
  • Technicks: Libra (scan enemies), Wither (reduce foe's physical defense), Expose (reduce target's defense), Numerology (Increased damage with successive hits)

Time Battlemage (Libra): job summary & license board highlights

The Time Battlemage is a strong support class, with its license board including a wide variety of buff and debuff skills in the form of time magic, green magic and white magic. They  can equip heavy armor, crossbows and swords as well, and have access to some helpful technicks too.

Some notable Time Battlemage license board items include...

  • Bowguns 1-4 - use a variety of bowgun type weapons
  • White Magick 4 - license to cast Cura and Raise
  • Time Magick 1-10 - complete access to the time magic buff and debuff spells
  • Green Magick 1-3 - access to a suite of green magic skillls including Decoy, Drain and Bubble
  • Technicks: Shear (reduce target's magic defense), Addle (reduce foe's magic power), Charge (restore some MP), Stamp (move active status effect)

Foebreaker (Scorpio): job summary & license board highlights

The Foebreaker's (also known as Breaker) primary function should be pretty obvious from the name - it's a heavy-hitting class that can really smash enemies until they're wide open. They use axes and hammers alongside heavy armor and shields, and carry a variety of break skills and technicks to back them up.

Some Foebreaker licenses you should grab from the board as soon as possible:

  • Hand-bombs - regardless of if you go for axes or hammers, hand-bombs are a useful back-up ranged weapon
  • Shell Shield, Ensanguined Shield, Zodiac Escutcheon - lets you equip this excellent gear
  • Genji Equipment - allows you to equip the practically game-breaking Genji Helm, Genji Shield, Genji Armor and Genji Gloves
  • Technicks: Wither (reduce a foe's physical attack damage), Expose (reduce a target's defense stats), Shear (reduce an enemy's magic defense stat), Addle (reduce a foe's magic power)

Archer (Sagittarius): job summary & license board highlights

The archer has access to bows, of course, but also is a very versatile job in that its license board is home to the largest number of technicks, plus some white magick. They use light armor, and they also have some great augments as well, focusing down on item use.

Some Archer license board highlights for your eyes and brain:

  • Sagittarius - allows you to equip the ultimate weapons Sagittarius and Dhanusha
  • Heavy Armor 10-12 - if light armor isn't enough for you, later on you can unlock the license for this high-end heavy gear.
  • White Magick 4 - the license to cast Cura and Raise
  • Technicks: 1000 Needles (1000 damage to one enemy), Shear (reduce a foe's magic defense), Addle (reduce a target's magic power), Charm (confuse an enemy), Libra (scan an enemy), Steal (steal items from foes), MP-HP (use all your MP, but charge one party member's HP to 10 times your MP amount)

Black Mage (Capricorn): job summary & license board highlights

The classic Final Fantasy spell slinger, the Black Mage in FF12 The Zodiac Age does exactly what you'd expect. This job has access to the complete range of black magic plus some green magic and some handy magic. They can equip staves, of course, plus hand-bombs as a useful ranged melee option. They project themselves with mystical armor for the most part.

Here are some key Black Mage license board beats:

  • Hand-Bombs 2-4 - a handy option for a physical attack option
  • Staff of the Magi - license to equip the powerful Staff of the Magi weapon
  • Black Magick 1-13 - a full suite of black magic, culminating in powerful spells like Scourge, Flare and Scathe
  • Green Magick 1-3 - a green magic set including Bubble and Syphon.
  • Technicks: Charm (confuse an enemy), Charge (restore user's MP - but if it fails, reduce MP to 0)

Bushi (Aquarius): job summary & license board highlights

The Bushi job is one that is another heavy-hitting class, though it has an even focus on magic and strength since its primary weapon, the Katana, calculates its magic output based off both. The Bushi technicks and augments are largely magic-driven, too. They use katana and mystic armor.

Some Bushi license board highlights include the following...

  • Masamune - license to equip the incredible Masamune katana weapon
  • Bloodsword, Bloodsword A - the license to equip the Bloodsword and Kumbha
  • Genji Equipment - allows you to equip the best-in-game Genji Gear set - the Genji Helm, Genji Shield, Genji Armor and Genji Gloves
  • Technicks: Libra (scan enemies) Souleater (consume HP to damage an enemy), Sight Unseeing (damage a percentage of enemy HP, but only usable while blinded)

Shikari (Pisces): job summary & license board highlights

The Shikari was known as the Hunter in some fan translations, and that name makes it much clearer what this class does - it's an agile, hunter-like class that uses daggers, ninja swords and guns along with white armor. They also have access to some white magic and technicks.

Here are just a few of the best licenses on the Shikari license board:

  • Nagasa - equip the Shikari's Nagasa and Mina
  • Orochi Yagyu - license to equip the Yagyu Darkblade and Mesa 
  • Guns 5-6 - if you want a ranged option, these later gun options are available as a license for this Ninja-like class.
  • Shields 2-7 - a range of shields available for this job, despite it not being the focus
  • Technicks: Libra (scan enemies), Telekinesis (deal ranged damage with melee weapons), Stamp (transfer active status effect), Bonecrusher (consume HP to instantly kill enemy)
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