You might ask yourself, “Self! Why do I need to party in this game? What’s the use? What are the benefits? Why? Why? Why?” Well, since my best guess is that you’re quite addicted to this game already, you’ll want to get even more out of your experience. And partying, or working together with other player characters, is one of the most robust and important systems in Final Fantasy Online.

There are more practical ideas, of course, as well. Once most characters reach a certain level (conveniently enough, 10 or so), solo play (hunting by yourself) becomes much more tedious, difficult, and slow. You might find yourself bested in combat by enemies that you only considered “a decent challenge,” if you’re a mage, or might curse your very existence at being knocked out by poison once more as a melee. Groups give each individual party member a) a better chance at survival, b) a faster rate of incoming experience, c) a true old-style RPG experience, and d) a good group of friends you can call on whenever the going gets rough.

If you’re still skeptical, ask yourself this question. What’s the use of playing a MMORPG if you don’t want to work with other people?

This being said, it’s time to go into the mechanics of party dynamics. Extremely esoteric class-specific explanations might be found in the coming-soon series of player guides edited by Eint, but for now, these summaries will do. The fact is, each player, depending on race and job, has a specific task to do in battle to keep the experience coming in quickly – and safely.

It’s easy to start a group. Just invite another player that is interested in grouping, preferably two levels above or below you for maximum experience gain. If you don’t have any in-game friends that want to party, use the search command to find players with the “Seek” tag (!) on, and send them a tell or an invite.

When forming a group of your own, keep in mind the following. Your group should be evenly balanced, to keep the party running as smoothly as possible. Every good group (save for in extreme conditions) should have the following types of characters:

* a “tank” – the character who can keep a monster’s attention (“aggro”) by Provoking or using high-damage attacks. Traditional Tank types are WAR and PLD. Defense is a must-have for each and every tank, because good armor and evasion cuts down on the amount of damage a tank can “tank” – and the more damage resistance, the better. Once a tank falls or needs to escape, the more defenseless players of the group are often cut, bashed, or mauled into gooey paste.
* a “nuker” or “mage” – most efficient parties include a character or two that can do incredible damage through the use of, usually, Black Magic spells. The BLM is the quintessential nuker; his grasp of elemental and enfeebling magics make monsters freeze in their tracks. Nukers are often incredibly fragile, which stresses the importance of a good tank. Battles will take MUCH longer to fight without a mage.
* a “healer” – needless to say, the most important thing in group dynamics is that each and every character in the party survives the next baddie hiding around the corner. For this reason, the WHM is the most precious job type in the game. The WHM is the glue of any party, keeping the characters alive and well to fight their next encounter. Without a healer, the time between battles increases exponentially. An added bonus is that melee characters have no need to rest after encounters – keeping their TP high between fights.

Every party absolutely needs these three types. Everything else is extra. For maximum functionality during battles, each party needs a Tank, a Mage, and a Healer.

Oh, lemme guess. You’re probably going, “Wait! I’m a Monk! Does that mean I’m not useful?” No, that’s not the case at all. The wonderful style of Final Fantasy Online ensures that each separate character class is equally balanced with every other, so no once class is better than the other. It’s all a matter of play style, which you’ve hopefully been getting a firm grasp of as of late.

The next guide will cover Battle Tactics and how each party member should behave in a variety of scenarios. It’s coming soon.

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