There are three kinds of party battles. I call them “easy,” “medium,” and “hard.” Mainly based on the difficulty of the ensuing fight, your tactics will need to vary depending on how long you’ll be engaged. Here’s what you should do during E, M, and H battles.

EASY BATTLES. (DECENT CHALLENGE, EVEN MATCH, TOUGH)

“I could take one of these things alone! Why am I fighting it in a group?”

Opening Steps: Warrior/Paladin or other Tank should provoke enemy. Other melees engage. Whoever is acting as an Enfeebler (WHM/RDM/BLM) should remain resting to restore mana for the HP that the tanks will have lost after the battle. The BLM or other nuker can throw a few spells on the enemy (1 or 2 at most) after the melees are steadily engaged.
Mid Battle: Melees keep pounding. Healers need to keep a close eye on the folks in the front line, making sure that nobody gets hurt too much from a freak attack or aggro from another baddie. Nukers should rest and recover their expended MP.
Endgame: Melees will finish with the kill. Healers and Nukers should have full MP. Congratulations, you’ve earned 13 XP.

MEDIUM BATTLES. (Cons VERY TOUGH, INCREDIBLY TOUGH)

“Time for a little bit more experience. Sure, I’ve already killed thirty-five of these in the past hour with my party, but I still need level 20!”

Opening Steps: Before the battle make sure Protect (and maybe Shell if appropriate) is on the melee fighters. As soon as the enemy comes into view, the main tank should provoke and engage the enemy. The other melees should now charge into combat. White mages and other healers, at this point, should be ready to heal the damage that will almost certainly ensue. Remember, at this point, WHM’s, to cast conservatively – wasting MP for another heal on a main tank will cost you more MP to heal the HP you’ll doubtlessly lose for overdoing it and drawing aggro.
Mid Battle: As the meat shields begin to wither under the strength of the enemy attacks, the nukers should bring the full force of their offensive power into play. Throw well-timed spells (between Provokes, etc.) towards the nemesis in question and assist your party by keeping a rotating camera, making sure nothing else is close by that will link or aggro on the combatants. White mages should continue to heal at all times. This is where Skillchains come into play; TP of the frontline fighters should be high.
Endgame: Similar to easy fights, except the battle will probably be ended by a well-timed spell (or a poorly-timed skillchain.) The melees SHOULD NOT REST at this point – conserve TP and time (even more vital) by having the healers expend their remaining HP on the frontliners, resting, and repeating as necessary.

HARD BATTLES. (Cons INCREDIBLY TOUGH)

“Um, we weren’t expecting this. But if we run, we’re sure to die! Attack! Attack! Attack!”

Opening Steps: The main goal in any hard battle is to stay alive. This being said, never willingly enter a hard battle such as this with depleted HP or MP. You’ll need all you can get. Also, try to have as much TP stored as possible for as many skillchains as your melees can muster. Also make sure the mages know how to Magic Burst! This is key. Follow the same opening steps (besides there) as medium battles, following the order melee -> healer -> nuker. Open with a skillchain.
Mid Battle: Throw caution to the winds; you’re trying to kill this enemy as quickly as possible. If there are two or more tanks, divide up provoking equally (“We’ll each provoke after 15 seconds, okay?”), and if not, keep the melee fighting far away from the mages. Mages, you will be a prime target during this whole battle – you’ll be casting heals and nukes like there’s no tomorrow. Trigger 2-HOUR abilities here if necessary.
Endgame: Drink potions if needbe. Be careful. If bad goes to worse, have the lead tank provoke the enemy and run as far away as he can get while the rest of the group flees. You’ll live to fight another day; but if you die, you’ll still fight another day, too.

So, there you have it. The art of combat is quite simple. Try it for yourself and figure out your own custom-tailored strategies! Remember, no two groups are EVER the same.

Until next time, Janus.

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