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FFVIII Build: Wind Swordsman

Tags: #Chris H  #Final Fantasy 
  • Member
    December 31

     Wind Swordsman

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        This is where it all began. This, the very first character build I ever created, before I ever even called them builds. A lot has changed over the years, it’s been through multiple iterations with different stat allocations and various junction setups (most of which were incomplete). But the idea has always been the same, it all starts with the elemental attack and defense junctions.

     

       Character class playthroughs have been a sort of self-imposed ‘challenge’ that has been discussed before for this game, and I’ve drawn influence from the concept to refine this build to its current state. Although not necessarily difficult, the hardest part is the planning. Also I’ve excluded Limit Break spam, permanent stat increases, and Card Mod abuse from my build, in order to preserve the integrity and personality of it.

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    Character: Squall Leonhart

     

    Weapon: Shear Trigger 

     

    Main Guardian Force: Pandemona

     

    Secondary GFs: Cerberus, Carbuncle




               The main characteristic of this build is its dedication to a singular element, Wind. This build will have strong melee, magic, and summoned attacks which all share the wind element, and it will also absorb its own element.

     

    Main stats to focus on with this build are, in order, Magic, Strength, Spirit, and Vitality. These stats improve damage and damage resistance, but we have a slight bias in favor of the magical side. The Magic stat powers up Aero and Tornado, as well as improving the Draw ability. Strength improves the damage output of Squall’s melee attacks. Spirit and Vitality reduce the amount of damage dealt to Squall, and are more useful than the HP stat here because Spirit and Vitality also reduce the damage dealt to Guardian Forces while they are being summoned.

     

    Guardian Force Abilities needed for the build:

    pandemona-gfabilities.jpg

        Because Pandemona has no menu abilities that are necessary to keep, it’s relatively easy to squeeze in all the abilities of this build onto a single Guardian Force. Normally you’d need at least two GF’s for a build because of the menu abilities. But if you are using Cerberus or Carbuncle alongside Pandemona, then you do not need Abilityx4 unless you have the Ribbon ability, because Abilityx3 will work just fine for this character build.

     

        Absorb and Initiative are relatively weak, you can delete them even though they cannot be relearned using items. However I only deleted Initiative, because I didn’t need to delete both.

     

       Note that all the ability deleting and learning using items to get to this list is more difficult to reverse than it is to create, you should have a separate save before you do this in case you decide you don’t like it. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t delete abilities before a Guardian Force learns their natural abilities, unless you know 100% for certain what you are doing. Ideally, character builds should aim to use the least amount of ability teaching items as possible, for this build I decided not to only because I wanted to.

     

    Junctions to go for:

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    All the junctions here are the endgame goal, although they are achievable by midgame, when the party has access to a vehicle that can cross water. I had Level 100 stats in mind when I created this, as I’ll do that with all my FFVIII builds, but Level 100 isn’t necessary. Basically what I mean is that I would use no better than these spells for these stats, and at least attempt to keep the stat ratio similar whenever able.

     

    At maximum level, assuming no permanent stat increases, Squall will have about 6000 HP, about 230 Magic, 180 Strength, and roughly 100 Vitality and 120 Spirit. Speed, Luck and Evade have no investments. While Luck doesn’t affect Squall’s ability to score crits, it does affect his ability to dodge, so with no investment in Evade or Luck, Squall won’t be dodging anything, although he has fairly good Vitality and Spirit.

    Scan2ffviiiSquall.png

    Because Aero and Tornado aren’t the strongest spells in FFVIII, I’ve included Triple and Expendx3-1 in this setup. This was something I learned from Final Fantasy V’s Red Mage, which had an ability that let them cast two spells in one turn, effectively doubling the power of their mid-tier elemental spells.

     

    What Expendx3-1 does is let a character with the Triple status cast the same spell three times while costing them only one charge of a spell instead of three. This means that Triple will let Squall triple the damage of his spells at no extra cost. Tripling Tornado or even Aero will do much more damage than just a regular swing of the gunblade, so I would use this for powerful monsters or in boss fights. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with Double and the Expendx2-1 ability can’t be taught with items.

     

    Gameplay

     

    Usually with this build I would junction Siren and Carbuncle to Squall for Disc 1 and the early parts of Disc 2. Should you have a spare GF in Disc 1 that has the Elem-Atk-J ability they should also be given to Squall for the time being. In the grassy plains outside Deling City and the Tomb of the Unknown King you can find a monster called Thrustaevis. You can steal Shear Feathers and Windmills from them, which refine into Aero and Tornado respectively, so I suggest getting Diablos’ Mug ability as soon as possible. If you spend some time here stocking up it should last all throughout Disc 2.

     

    When you get to the section where the party splits up, save first as it can be difficult. Once the party reunites they will head back to Balamb and you can get Pandemona. Now that you’ve got the ability to cross the ocean, navigate south to the Centra Ruins. In those ruins you can fight Tonberry enemies, make sure your party is well equipped because these guys have thousands of HP and powerful attacks. Diablos, Demi, Darkside and Recover are useful here. Once you slaughter a bunch then there’s a boss fight against a Guardian Force, defeat it and it’ll join you, providing the needed Familiar ability. After that’s done you can head to Timber and buy items to sculpt Pandemona’s skillset, then give Squall’s other GF’s to the other party members.

     

    The segment of the story after this can be challenging because you can’t exit the place until you’re finished, but it marks the end of Disc 2. Disc 3 will be smooth sailing now that we’ve got the build up and running.

                And don't forget, this is not a solo build! Final Fantasy is designed with the party in mind, solo playthroughs are a self imposed challenge, and thus solo builds must be considerably stronger if they wish to survive. And just having Squall's friends to help him isn't good enough, they'll need builds too so don't just leave them with whatever scraps and leftovers you happen to have with you. Also, remember to keep multiple saves, because there's sections of the game where you can't back out and leave to gain magic and purchase items. Both of these points were things I didn't do when I was a kid and it's why I found the game to be nigh unbeatable years ago.

     

    Combat and Magic

     

    Being a turn-based game where this character is on a team, it’s not particularly complicated to explain how this build functions in combat.

     

    Lots of people who are new to this game usually dismiss casting magic because it would lower stats that it’s junctioned to, however spellcasting is a perfectly viable option (albeit not the most optimal, but maxxed out overpowered characters are boring anyways), it just requires slightly more resource management. It actaully takes many castings to reduce stats significantly.

    AeroMesmerize2.jpg

    With the Magic command, on this build it was used primarily to cast Aero and Tornado, as well as some support spells on occasion. Ultima was saved like Elixirs, used only in difficult encounters, since Ultima is the most powerful spell to junction and quite rare to get a hold of in large quantities. Also, because magic can be exchanged to characters not in the active party, I could actually stock reserves of all the spells I cast on characters I wasn’t using or characters who didn’t cast spells anyway. And because magic can be refined from items, you can treat items like Windmills, Shear Feathers, et cetera as makeshift Ethers, that can’t be used during battle and only affect one spell, but it means you can effectively store magic in item form to access later.

    The Draw command is used to restock spells or cast spells that the build doesn’t have. Basically, it gives Squall something to do when there’s not much to do. You shouldn’t ever use Draw to get amass large quantities of spells unless it’s your only option at the moment, it is better used to restock spells you are casting. Think of it like the Osmose spell as a command ability, absorbing MP from an enemy.

     

    Tornado_Zone-bomb.pngI opted to use the GF summon command for this build. It takes little to no effort whatsoever to maintain maximum compatibility with Pandemona, primarily by virtue of elemental focus. Summoning is useful because it allows access to a multi-target magical attack that uses no spells, only downsides being the lengthy animation and incompatibility with Double and Triple. Easy compatibility is one of the only reasons to go with a single Guardian Force, so I figured it would only make sense to be able to summon them.

     

    To summarize, this character plays out like a mage with melee abilities, many ways to deal damage in various forms. Except in the event you encounter an enemy with immunities or absorption, in which case they should transition to a support role. Resistances aren’t so bad, since you’d still deal some damage, it would only be an issue if the party is in danger but Renzokuken should be used in those dire situations.

     

    Items and Spells

     

    The Royal Crown for the Mag+60% ability will be acquired upon defeating the Tonberry King, and you’ll get another one by stealing from the last boss of Disc 2.

    Hyper Wrists can be stolen from the optional boss, Bahamut on Disc 3. Alternatively you could refine the Zell card.

    The Rosetta Stone you can get from Cheryl’s shop in Esthar while you’re in control of Zell, there’s another one in the final dungeon, Rosetta Stone’s are very rare.

    Three Stars needed for the Expendx3-1 ability can be acquired during the Obel Lake sidequest, the only other ways to get them are by refining the Squall card or getting them from either of the Weapon superbosses.

    The Ribbon you can only get from the Chocobo World minigame, you’d need a Pocketstation for that if you’re playing the actual PSone version of the game, it’s included digitally with the Steam release. If you don’t have a Ribbon then use Status-Defx4 as an alternative, Cerberus learns it.

     

    And all of the various [Stat]-J scrolls can be bought from the Timber Pet Shop and Esthar pet shop if you have Tonberry GF’s Familiar ability. They can also be refined but it’s much easier to just buy them.


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    Epilogue

    I’ve since taken this character idea and it has been used as the basis for all my main character setups whenever possible. Generally when I use it it’s supposed to create a version of myself in a game. Here I’ll list the games (in addition to FFVIII) I’ve taken this into successfully that it worked in, with a very breif summary of the details:

     

    • Final Fantasy VII (Organics sword made wind elemental, Tornado spell with Quadra magic and/or W-Magic, Finishing Touch limit break. Works great, too bad FF7 is way too easy even without materia.)
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (without dlc it doesn’t work too well, with the dlc it’s amazing, and with mods included it’s absolutely flawless. My published Aermoancer build is sort of an example)
    • Legend of Dragoon (Not really, however the Jade Dragoons, Lavitz and Albert, basically already are this sort of character. Magical hat + Jade DG armor basically.)
    • Final Fantasy V (Basically all i did was get all three Aero spells and give !Blue to Bartz while he’s a melee job class like Dragoon or Knight. Not spectacular, but gets the job done)
    • Dark Souls II (A build centered around the Drakewing Ultra Greatsword weapon. That weapon fits this character like a glove)

    But wait, I'm not done yet! Expect an artistic revamp in the near future, with custom made artwork. Drawing magic is hard, yo