Final Fantasy XIII: Character Setup Guide

       Final Fantasy XIII Character Setup Faq

By JGiddy

Guide Version 1.00

|                            Table of Contents                                |
|   1. Introduction................................................... [01.00]|
|   2. Tips........................................................... [02.00]|
|      - Early Game................................................... [02.01]|
|      - Upgrading Overview  ......................................... [02.02]|
|      - What to Upgrade ............................................. [02.03]|
|      - Farming...................................................... [02.04]|
|      - Forming Parties.............................................. [02.05]|
|   3. Lightning...................................................... [03.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [03.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [03.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [03.03]|
|   4. Sazh........................................................... [04.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [04.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [04.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [04.03]|
|   5. Snow........................................................... [05.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [05.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [05.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [05.03]|
|   6. Hope........................................................... [06.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [06.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [06.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [06.03]|
|   7. Vanile......................................................... [07.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [07.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [07.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [07.03]|
|   8. Fang........................................................... [08.00]|
|      - Overview..................................................... [08.01]|
|      - Setup........................................................ [08.02]|
|      - Equipment.................................................... [08.03]|
|   9. Version History................................................ [09.00]|
|  10. Concluding Thoughts............................................ [10.00]|

|                            Introduction                              [01.00]|

 Welcome to my first guide. I have seen a lot of confusion surrounding the
different characters in this wonderful game. The goal of this guide is to help
you understand and utilize the different strengths that each of the six FFXIII
characters bring to the table.

 My goal is to help you understand that every character is a wonderful 
snowflake that deserves at least a second look from you. Many players tend to
just follow the guide and only use Lightning, Fang, and Hope without 
realizing what Sazh, Snow, and Vanille can do!

 The guide is mainly focused on the most challenging stretch of the game, which
begins from the reunion at the end of Chapter 9 to the end of the post game
(which includes all missions). I will assume you prefer to five star every
mission and battle to achieve maximum loot and trophies.

 Since the game forces Crystarium choices and party leaders on you until the 
end of Chapter 9, most of the guide's early game advice will simply focus on 
getting through tougher battles. 

 Please note, this guide is mainly focused on the stretch of the game beginning
 with the end of Chapter 9 and up through most of the Missions. Accordingly, I
 am not going to mention end game specific items such as Genji Glove and Grow
 Egg. I find Character Guides relatively useless by the time you have maxed all
 Crystarium and farmed every valuable item in the game.
|                            Tips (Early Game)                         [02.01]|

 The benefits of doing well at every battle are increased TP regeneration, 
which enables you to use Summons and valuable techniques such as Libra more
frequently, and an increased rare item drop rate. The latter is very important
in the early game.

 You basically want to hoard as many components and gil-generating items as
possible without spending too much. Winning battles through pre-emptive strikes
and good tactics will let you obtain items such as Phoenix Down and Incentive
Chips that sell for a high amount of gil.

 I would suggest skipping battles that do not net you good components or 
valuable items. Especially in the early Chapters prior to when you gain the 
Crystarium ability,there's no real point in fighting battles. It's just a waste
of time, so skip them!

 To beat early battles easily, keep in mind a few things. For every other 
Paradigm shift you make, you get a full ATB bar. This lets you kill and
heal at a far faster rate than simply waiting. So make sure you are frequently
shifting, the game is designed around this pace!

 Do not ever set the battle speed to slow. Because "slow" does not give you
more time to finish battles, you will simply end up hurting the chances for a
five-star battle. Read the excellent "Game Mechanics" guide for more details.

 And finally, remember that your general goal is to stagger the enemy.
Ravagers are your best option for this but their chain increases will deplete
very quickly. So the goal is to start with a few classes that slow the chain
gauge; Commandos and Saboteurs are best for this. Once you get in a few 
strikes, shift immediately to a triple or double Ravager setup to stagger.

 Do not underestimate how quickly the Ravager staggers compared to other 
classes! Once the bar is slowed, you should almost always be in a triple or
dual Ravager setup. Once the enemy is staggered, Commandos do far more
damage so feel free to switch.

 With Paradigm Shifts, you can basically start with something like Relentless
Assault (COM + 2 RAV) and immediately switch to Tri-Disaster (3 RAV) after
the Commando gets his/her attacks in.

 Switching quickly to Tri-Disaster is often the fastest (and only) way to get
five-star rankings versus certain enemies.

 And finally, avoid farming for CP or gil until the end of Chapter 11. 
The enemies you meet there will give you thousands of Gil and thousands of CP
per battle, making any farming you do in the early game a waste of time.

|                            Upgrading Overview                        [02.02]|

 An Item has an actual Experience amount that you see and a hidden EXP amount
that affects the multiplier. The maximum multiplier is x3 and you generally 
always want to obtain x3 unless the item requires very little EXP.

 Organic components (such as Fangs and Tails) will add little actual EXP but
add to the hidden multiplier. Non-organic components add increasing amounts of
actual EXP but subtract from the multiplier.

 The most efficient way to upgrade an item is to increase the multiplier then
use as many copies of a non-organic component necessary to max the level.

Multiplier Values:
51-100 = x1.25
101-200= x2
201-205= x.175
251-500= x2
501+= x3

 In practice, you rarely know what each organic component adds. So you don't
really need to know the exact value for x3. Just keep adding organic parts 
until the x3 is unlocked.

 To make things easier, the best buyable Multiplier components:
Sturdy Bone  (+14)
Barbed Tail  (+14)
Vibrant Ooze (+14)

You need 36 of one of these items to unlock the x3 multiplier. So simply
buy them from the Creature Comforts shop and you're set. Once you get x3
on the item you want to upgrade....
 The best buyable regular non-organic components (in order):
Ultracompact Reactor (R&D Depot, unlocked after Mission 7 in Ch. 11)
Particle Accelerator (R&D Depot)
Superconductor       (Lenora's Garage)
The Ultracompact Reactor is the best component in the game. Unfortunately, it
often gives so much EXP that it's overkill on some of your accessories and
tier 1 items. For those cases, you want to use Superconductors instead.
Superconductors are incredibly useful because each item gives a small amount
of EXP so you can basically come very close to maxing an item out each time
without wasting a component.

*IMPORTANT NOTE* while the table above includes the best GIL to EXP components,
you *never ever ever* want to sell the components you obtain as loot. The 
reason is you only get a fraction of the item's price back, meaning they
are actually more efficient to use than to sell.

Also, there are a number of items in the game that are intended to be sold,
not to be used as components. Examples include:

Green Needle, Moogle Doll, Incentive/Credit Chip, Platinum Ingot, Gold Nugget

|                            What to Upgrade                           [02.03]|

Because of the way the game jumps from party member to party member, it's
generally not a wise idea to upgrade Weapons in the early game. Rather, what
you should do is save all your components and only upgrade the following items
until Chapter 11.

Brawler's Wristband: This accessory reaches level 11 so x2 or x3 it)

You obtain this +Strength accessory early and won't find better until far
later in the game. Keep it starred (maxed out) and de-equip it before each 
party switch so that you have extra muscle in the early game. You can tell
when your party will switch because you have 1) defeated a boss and 2) there
are no enemies in between that battle and the last plot marker that will end
the chapter.

Shaman's Mark: This accessory reaches level 11 so x2 or x3 it)

You obtain this +Magic accessory early as well and don't find better until
far later. So keep it starred and de-equip it between party switches.

Whistlewind Scarf: This accessory only has one level (don't x3 it)

You obtain this accessory in Chapter 9. Upgrade it immediately and put it on
your best Synergist, Saboteur, or Commando. It becomes one of the best mid-game
accesories in the game, Aurora Scarf. Aurora Scarf gives you a full ATB bar
at the start of each battle.

When you obtain more Scarfs at the Moogleworks shop or during Chapter 11, try
to get three for each of your characters.

Royal Armlet: This accessory reaches level 11 (so you need to x3 it)

You obtain this in Chapter 9 as well. You don't necessarily have to upgrade it
but the 15% net overall damage reduction is way better than any HP bangle for
your fragile Hope/Lightning type characters. Use it if you find the battles

Once you have upgraded these three (or four) items, save your components. Now
you want to upgrade each of your favorite character's weapons until they reach
max level. Once an item is "starred," you need a catalyst to upgrade it
further. Feel free to use these catalysts if you have them.

View each Character's Equipment section to see what weapons I recommend.

Note that a lot of the weapons require Scarletite (or Trapezohedron) items to
upgrade beyond level 1. Do not buy Scarletite or Traps. View the "Farming" 
section for where to obtain as many copies as your heart desires.

Once you have obtained a Trapezohedron and enough Gil, feel free to upgrade
either Vanille's Belladonna Wand or Fang's Pandoran Spear to a starred Ultimate
Weapon. Then, you can dismantle it to obtain 216,000 gil and 3 additional 

If you feel like farming for the 6 Traps yourself though, you don't have to
use this method and can simply continue killing Turtles.

|                             Farming                                  [02.04]|

In my playthroughs, I tend to finish Chapter 11 before beginning farming. The
reason is it unlocks your second to last level of Crystarium and gives access
to increased stat gains and powerful abilities. Once you have achieved this,
let's look at the best farming spots.

Before you start farming, get a Collector's Catalog and a Connoisseur's Catalog
as soon as possible. You can obtain both in Chapter 11. One is found at the
Apex of Taejin's tower, for those who missed it. Interact with the statue
after you beat the boss and take the elevator to a treasure sphere.

The other is a Mission 8 reward. These two Catalogs will increase your chances
of obtaining valuable items.

Dark Matter: Ths catalyst costs a lot of Gil but can be obtained rather easily.
Finish Mission 63 and you will unlock the different "Gui" turtles that replace
the "Adaman" turtles. The "Shaolong Gui" turtle has a 5% chance to drop
Dark Matter (multiplied by getting 5 stars and using a Connuseir Catalog).

Trapezohedron: These are found off the Long Gui and Adamantoise/tortoise. I 
would recommend finishing Chapter 11 to obtain Vanille's Death spell as soon
as possible. Then, as you're doing the missions, whenever you get three TP you
can kill a turtle. The turtles also drop Platinum Ingots which sell for
150,000 gil.

Scarletite: These drop from the Sacrifice monsters in Chapter 12/13 (which
also drop Perfumes, a valuable Gil component). Don't buy any and simply wait
to reach these Chapters. Farm about 12 or more if you're going for the
all items obtained Trophy.

Tetradic Tiara: This item, when starred, dismantles into Sprint Shoes (one of
the best accesories in the game). It also sells for 40,000 gil. You can obtain
multiple copies naturally (through the Chocobo treasure and drops) but you
can also farm some very early by repeatedly spawning the Mission 7 boss. He
drops the Tiara at a low rate and can be very difficult.

The Best End Game Farming Spots:

Method 1: Eden Hall
The first is at the end of Chapter 12. There are a bunch of packs of Sacrifice
that conclude with a boss mob. You can clear the Sacrifices, reach the end,
and hit "retry battle" to respawn the entire line (while setting up pre-emptive
strikes). You should obtain lots of gil and CP this way. You can not return
to this method after beating the game! (The respawn trick doesn't work).

Method 2: Orphan's Cradle
The second is at the start of Chapter 13. Just before the portals there are 
two packs of Sacrifice near a save point that respawn any time you move off 
screen. You can not return to this method after beating the game.

Method 3: Chapter 11
Simply kill an Adamantoise each time you build up three TP while doing your

Method 4: Eden Hall
You can find an Adamantoise here in Eden Hall. There are soldier mobs nearby
that allow you to build up three TP quickly if you equip the full Gestalt set
(Energy Sash and Champion's Badge for starters). 

Overall, I would recommend simply obtaining two Traps. Use one on each of
Fang/Vanille's weapons then max them out and dismantle. This will give you
Six Traps. Then farm Sacrifices for gil, which are far more efficient.

You *have* to dismantle:
Ultimate Maxed Kain's Lance 
(made from Dragoon Lance/Shamanic Spear/Punisher/Pandoran Spear/Gae Bolg) or 

Ultimate Maxed Nirvana
(made from Tigerclaw/Healer's Staff/Belladonna Wand/Mistilteinn)

|                           Forming Parties                            [02.05]|

This section will be relatively short since most people have preferred
or favored characters.

As a general rule, I find Medics, Saboteurs, Sentinels, and Synergists to be 
the more difficult classes to control. The reason is they frequently require
you to press Circle to cancel queued actions and also often force you to pick
Abilities manually rather than use the questionable auto choices.

So because of that, your leader slot should favor someone who has a good
ultimate ability and good Commando/Ravager skills (so that you can manually
input Area of Effect attacks).

Also, for most of the game you want to have some combination of the following:
 - The ability to swap to three Ravagers
 - At least one good Synergist
 - At least one good Saboteur
 - Preferably two Commandos
 - Preferably one Sentinel
 - At least two good Medics

Leader: Lightning, Sazh, Fang, Snow

Your leader should be one of these four characters. The reasons are their
special abilities and Blitz. You should not pick Hope or Vanille because they
are much better in support. That is, unless you are using Death with Vanille.

Support Characters:

You have to get used to seeing Hope, Vanille, and Lightning in your game. The
three are the best Support characters in the game. I would say basically every
mid to late game party should use at least two of these three Characters. It's
difficult to use expensive Crystarium slots for Sazh, Snow, and Fang on
Medic upgrades.

In addition, you can't really use Snow/Fang, Snow/Sazh, or Fang/Snow in the
same party until the end game because they're all bad Medics and Fang hasn't
unlocked her Ravager abilities yet. 

So pick your favorite leader, then use some combination of Hope/Vanille/Light.
Which ones to pick? Look down below!

|                            Lightning                                 [03.00]|
Max Stats: 1700 Str, 1700 Mag, 20,000 HP

Lightning packs a unique combination of characteristics. I personally think
she is the best character in the game. There are a lot of experts who will 
disagree with this, but try playing her using my suggested setup.

For most of the game, the point of the game isn't raw damage. The point of
the game is to stagger as soon as possible. Once you remember this, you'll
see why Lightning is so good.

Overview [3.01]

Lightning is generally the second best Commando, best Ravager, 
best (or third best) Medic depending on how you look at it, best Sentinel, 
and makes a decent Saboteur/Synergist.

The reason for this is her Speed. The setup I will recommend for you basically
makes her by far the fastest character in the game. This basically makes her
the best leader AND the best support character you can put in. 

When the enemy is being staggered, Lightning will input far more chain 
increases. And when the enemy is staggered, Lightning will pull off far more
Commando attacks.

She also has the highest combined stats (1700 Str/1700 Mag, albeit at the cost
of some HP.

To make things even more ridiculous, Lightning becomes unhittable as a 
Sentinel when unlocking Elude along with Nimbletoe Boots. If she does get hit,
the Sentinel ability Reprieve will let you heal her up with no worries.

Setup [3.02]

You basically want to follow this order with Lightning.

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots
2. Get Army of One
3. Max out Commando/Rav/Medic role levels
4. Pick up Elude in Sentinel tree
5. Max out main 3 roles
6. Pick up Reprieve (it's super expensive) in the SEN tree
7. Max out Synergist/Saboteur

Lightning as Leader:

Versus strong single enemies, Army of One basically single-handedly breaks 
the enemy while slowing it down a lot. You want to start with a paradigm like 
Smart Bomb (RAV+RAV+SAB) and switch to something like Relentless Assault 
(with Lightning as the RAV) after your team finishes their attacks. 
Then, do it again and again until the enemy breaks.

With Axis Blade equipped, Army of One basically returns your full ATB bar
when you start with Smart Bomb! With my equip set up, you have a pretty
decent chance of getting an early break as well.

Versus groups of enemies, Lightning is unquestionably the greatest since
Muhammad in his prime. Start with a Paradigm like Bully (COM + SAB + SYN).
Your teammate will haste Lightning while you should queue up a Ruinaga + 
Blitz. Once the attack completes, switch to something like Relentless Assault
or Aggression (COM + COM + RAV).

Then, go to abilities and hold Right to Repeat your previous action. She will
repeatedly perform Ruinaga + Blitz but Axis Blade will restore some ATB for
each hit you land. So basically your ATB bar will recharge faster than you
can spend it. You can get off 3 Ruinaga + Blitz's in one Paradigm Shift

Lightning as Support:

If you pick up random Synergist/Saboteur parts, Lightning can quickly buff
those abilities. But generally, you want to use Lightning in her main three
roles. The speed of Axis Blade + 10% ATB charge will allow her to get dozens
of more abilities than your comrades in a long battle.

As a Sentinel, she basically becomes immune to Physical attacks. Multiple
uses of Provoke will draw the attention so it's just up to you to kill kill

Equipment [3.03]

Weapon: Axis Blade (upgrade to Enkindler ASAP)

Axis Blade is a lot better than other Weapons. While I was not a believer 
during my first play through, using Axis Blade in my second game converted me

You want to upgrade it to lvl 2 by buying Adamantite as soon as possible 
(probably after you finish Vanille's robot quest). It'll return more of your
ATB bar at level 2.

Until it reaches level 2, feel free to use something else like Gladius. Once
you have Enkindler, feel free to upgrade Lightning's Weapon to Ultimate last.
She doesn't need it as badly as other characters do.

Recommended Accessory Setups:

My recommended accessory slots go in order. So if you have three slots 
unlocked, use the first three and so on.

Early Setup:
1- Strength Accessory
2- Speed Accessory (Sprint Shoes, Aurora Scarf)

You generally want to start with Blitz to soften each enemy up and slow down
their chain gauge. Then feel free to swap to Ravager and start the staggering.

Leader Setup:
1- Energy Sash
2- A Catalog/Friend/Sash with Gestalt synthesis group
3- Nimbletoe Boots
4- Sprint Shoes

This setup will give you the "lucky break" ability. The Energy Sash will
restore TP every time Lightning makes a kill (which is quite frequent as you
will see). Army of One will have a small chance with each hit to early stagger
as well.

Nimbletoe Boots is essential for the Sentinel role but also gives Lightning a
+10% ATB boost in conjunction with Axis Blade. Sprint Shoes will bump to +20%,
and by the time you unlock the Ultimate Weapon (which loses the synthesis
group), Sprint Shoes and Nimbletoe will give you at least 10%.

Also, while I'm not prone to fits of hyperbole, this setup is probably the 
best leader or teammate setup for any character in the game.

Teammate Setup:
1- Sprint Shoes
2- Aurora Scarf
3- Nimbletoe Boots
4- Magic Accessory/Boost item

Generally I don't like using STR or MAG boosting Accessories. They require you
to have faster times to achieve 5 star levels. However, this setup already
packs the three necessary Boost items (the fourth would be redundant and
useless other than giving a 10% boost). So a MAG accessory seems strong in 
this slot. 

Feel free to swap it for +HP or Damage reduction accessories if you want.

Lightning Setup:
1- Lightning Accessory (Lightning Charm or the Rings)
2- Lightning Accessory
3- Lightning Accessory
4- Auto-Faith Accessory

This specialized setup is for farming in the Mahbara Mines. When you first
enter the Mines, you can make a left turn to access a bunch of Pulsework
and Cryohedrons that give incredible CP. Reach the Juggernaut at the end and
retry the battle to respawn everything.

This setup gives Lightning increased damage from her Thunder spells. Simply
start as a Ravager and spam Thundara/Thundaga to finish each battle in

|                                Sazh                                  [04.00]| 
Max Stats: 1000 Str, 1000 Mag, 27000 HP

Sazh is an interesting character. He is both very specialized and very 
underrated. Players will primarily use him for one of three things: Blitz 
in the Commando role, his amazing Synergist abilities, or his unique weapons.

Sazh is often derided for his lower stats. While this is a valid critique,
stats aren't everything. Stagger duration and offensive buff durations are
often far more valuable (while allowing you to take more time to reach a
five-star ranking).

Overview [4.01]

Sazh is the third best Commando, a decent Ravager, the best Synergist, a
servicable Medic, and will never really be used for the other skills. However 
in some battles, Sazh becomes the best Commando to control.

As a Commando, Sazh's Blitz ability works slightly differently than the others. 
While Snow, Fang, and Lightning tend to create a swirl of impact that hits
hits surrounding areas, Sazh fires multiple shots (like a machine gun) 
into the crowd. What this means is that against bigger targets like the 
turtles that are forced to absorb every shot, Sazh does the best single target 
damage in the game. Take a gander at some of his Youtube kill videos if you
don't believe me!

Sazh is also the best synergist in the game. He receives the Spica Defenders,
a weapon that belongs to the "Positive Effect" Synthesis Group. When you pair
these with a Watchman's amulet/Shrouding Talisman, you get a 30% boost to
buffs. Basically, a buff from Sazh using that setup will mean you can start
as Synergist for a boss battle and be Hasted for the entire battle.

Finally, some of Sazh's weapons have unique effects that no other character 
can match. His best weapon, Procyons, increases enemy stagger duration by
30% at level 2. This type of amazing bonus will allow you to kill much stronger
enemies by breaking them as soon as possible. 

His other unique weapon is Antares Deluxe. Antares Deluxe increases Sazh's
chain bonus. Using his unique ability, Cold Blood, Sazh can rapidly stagger as
the leader or in a support role. However, I would not recommend this
weapon. It is obtained in Chapter 12; I prefer to finish most missions before
the end game. 

Also, his extremely high HP total is very useful in the middle stages of the
game. You will notice a difference running a party like Vanille, Sazh, and 
Snow over a party of Lightning, Hope, and Fang for certain.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that Sazh has very slow attack animations. This
may just be an optical illusion, but if you have noticed this/have proof, feel
free to e-mail me.

Setup [4.02]

You basically want to follow this order with Sazh.

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots
2. Get Cold Blood (if you plan to make him a leader)
3. Max out Synergist/Commando/Ravager role levels (in that order)
4. Pick up a few Cure spells
5. Max out main 3 roles
6. Work on whatever else

Sazh as Leader:

I wouldn't really recommend Sazh as leader unless you're planning on killing
turtles with Blitz. But if you do use that method, make sure to use Sazh's
Cold Blood to stagger the enemy. Three applications of Blitz, repeated over
and over, provides incomparable damage.

Sazh as Support:

Sazh is great in support, particularly for teams that use Lightning as a 
leader. Give him an Aurora Scarf (no need for Sprint Shoes) and start in a 
Paradigm that begins with Sazh as Synergist. He will have Haste up immediately.

Equipped with Procyons, he can contribute immensely to your party's overall
damage. You may want to develop Sazh as a medic quickly though if you need 
some spot healing.

Equipment [4.03]

Weapon: Procyons

The problem with Procyons is that it requires a Dark Matter to reach level 2.
Dark Matter costs almost a million Gil but is easily farmable later in the
game. So you should probably hold off on upgrading Procyons.

In the meantime, I would suggest using Spica Defenders. It has a healthy STR
bonus and allows you to chain Positive Effect, a bonus you will notice for the
challenging boss battles as you approach the end game.

Recommended Accessory Setups:

Early Setup:
1- Aurora Scarf
2- Watchman's Amulet/Shrouding Talisman

Remember, for the portions where you control only Vanille and Sazh, that prior
to obtaining Commando you need to slow down the chain gauage. Two Ravagers 
won't cut it so you should start most battles with RAV + SAB, even after
unlocking Commando.

Leader Setup:
1- STR Accessory
2- STR Accessory
3- Auto Brave Accessory (Morale Talisman)
4- STR Accessory

When you first finish Chapter 11, Sazh won't have the necessary STR to defeat
an Adamantoise. You need roughly 1000+ STR (on the safe side) to be able to
kill it. I would suggest pumping his STR up immediately with these Accessories.

Then, use your Eidolon summon to bring the Tortoise to its knees. Make sure
you are buffed with Bravery/Haste and then go to town building up the chain
gauge and unleashing Blitz after Blitz.

Later Leader Setup: (once Sazh has enough STR)
1- STR Accessory
2- Auto Brave Accessory
3- Gestalt Synthesis Group (Sashes, Hunter's Friend, Survivalist Catalog)
4- Gestalt Synthesis Group 

This setup gives Sazh the STR to take down turtles while also allowing each of
his Blitzes the chance to instantly stagger the opponent.

Teammate Setup:
1- Aurora Scarf
2- Player's Choice
3- Player's Choice
4- Player's Choice

Sazh is a very versatile character in support. While you should always give him
a Scarf and begin with him as a Synergist, the other accessory slots should be
based on your intended role for the man.

If you keep him with Spica Defenders, feel free to leave the Watchman's
Amulet still in. If you use him as a chain-boosting Ravager or need a Medic,
give him an auto-Faith or +MAG boosting accessory. 

|                            Snow                                 [05.00]|    |
Max Stats: 1500 STR, 1200 MAG, 30,000 HP

Snow is a rather unfortunately designed character. He is simply outclassed
by Fang in every meaningful capacity. His Strength is slightly lower and then
becomes far outclassed in the end game, his special "Sovereign Fist" does
slightly less calculated damage than Fang's "Highwind" (before accounting for
STR), and she makes a servicable Sentinel.

To survive on your roster, Snow has to adapt. He has to take advantage of what
Fang doesn't bring to the table and adjust from there. So what do we have?

Overview [5.01]

Snow actually brings a lot of interesting, unique value to the table. Note
that there are only three viable Sentinels in the game, but only two at the 
start (Fang + Snow, later joined by Lightning). Snow is the best Sentinel.

There are only three SAB who learn the single target Daze. Daze is a unique
debuff that lets the next direct attack deal double damage. Endgame farmers
have begun using Snow in a party with either Fang or Sazh, simply using him
as a Saboteur-bot that keeps refreshing Daze.

Unlike Fang and Sazh, Snow's Saboteur tree learns nothing that "Adaman"
turtles are vulnerable to (Deprotect, Deshell, and Imperil). So essentially
Snow can keep spamming Daze in fights where the enemy is vulnerable.

Finally, if you build Snow correctly, he makes a very servicable Medic (with
access to Curasa. He also starts as a Ravager and his "Daze" ability is not
too far down his SAB tree. 

By the time other characters have started on their fourth tree, Snow will have
become a servicable Ravager, Medic, Saboteur, while being an above-average
Commando and the best Sentinel. Not too shabby.

Setup [5.02]

For maximum effectiveness, I would suggest

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots
2. Get Sovereign Fist
3. Max out Commando/Ravager role levels
4. You can stop with Sentinel at Reprieve
5. Grab Cura in the Medic Tree
6. Get Daze in the Saboteur Tree
7. Max out the three main roles, then everything else

Snow as Leader:

Snow is basically Fang in the leadership role. His Sovereign Fist does almost
as much damage as Highwind for most of the game. He also has a very fast
attack speed and does solid damage.

Use him as a leader if you love his personality. I personally favored using
Lightning, Fang, or Sazh for gameplay purposes.

Snow as Support:

When you finish up to step 6 in the Setup guide (this won't take that much CP),
Snow will become a very effective support player. He will be a great Medic
and Ravager while also working well when spamming Daze.

I usually much prefer having the AI control my Sentinels as well, but that's 
more of a personal thing.

Equipment [5.03]

Weapon: Wild Bear (unlike others, Snow's best weapon choice is debatable)

I generally try to keep Snow's stats balanced. While in my first playthrough
I gave him Power Circle, I think Wild Bear is better if you're using Snow as
a Medic. Cure spells are based on Magic.

If you are fully intent on simply spamming Daze, it may be better to go with
Feymark. But Snow starts with 1500 Str/1200 MAG. Feymark gives 0 STR/1050 MAG
while Wild Bear gives 717 of each. 1500/2250 or 2217/1917? Tough call.

Remember, Commandos use Ruin with high MAG and Ravagers use Strikes with high
STR, so you don't necessarily need both stats. Simply focusing on one will
still let your characters work their roles.

Recommended Accessory Setups:

Early Setup:
1- Strength Accessory
2- Strength Accessory

Snow begins as a physical beast. He has immense HP which means you don't need 
to use damage prevention accessories ever. Instead, feel free to boost his 
damage as high as possible and focus on stashing your filler Accessories 
(like the Catalogs) on him as well.

Leader Setup:
1- Player's Choice
2- Player's Choice
3- Player's Choice
4- Player's Choice

Snow is very low maintenance when it comes to Accessories. With high natural
STR and HP, you don't really need to equip him with anything in particular.
However, good choices include Auto-Bravery, Sprint Shoes, Aurora Scarf, and
STR boosts.

Keep in mind, when calculating your battle ranking, the game takes the higher
value of your character's STR or MAG and ignores the other. So feel free to 
put MAG boosting accessories on Snow if his STR would remain higher anyways.

Also consider making him your pack mule. Equip the different Catalogs.

Teammate Setup:
1- Player's Choice
2- Player's Choice
3- Player's Choice
4- Player's Choice

Again, not much changes if Snow is a leader or a party member. Feel free to
use the items that boost his role in your party.  

Snow Setup:
1- Magistral Crest
2- Magistral Crest
3- Magistral Crest
4- Magistral Crest

If you equip four of these expensive items with Feymark, Snow will become
immune to all Magic damage. This ability is of questionable worth, especially
considering it's ridiculously huge cost.

|                            Hope                                 [06.00]|
Max Stats: 1100 STR, 1900 MAG, 18000 HP

Hope is one of the glue characters that will prove invaluable to your squad.
Though I am not personally a fan of his personality, watching his transition
from soft sissy to a power house is quite interesting.

In many respects, Hope is identical to Vanille. While she gets a slight edge
from me due to being the best Saboteur, Hope ends up becoming a superior
Ravager and a slightly better Medic. 

Overview [6.01]

Hope is widely considered the best Medic and second best Ravager in the game.
He also makes a top defensive Synergist and a solid Saboteur with many AoE

Interestingly enough, people tend to ignore the fact that he also becomes a 
top Commando! Indeed, Hope will spam Ruin as a Commando so feel free to unlock 
that role in the future.

Setup [6.02]

You basically want to follow this order with Hope.

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots
2. You can ignore Highwind (unless you want to see how it looks).
3. Max out Rav/Med/Synergist role levels and trees (focusing on HP as you go)
4. Pick up Saboteur abilities if you need them
5. Work on the Commando tree

Hope as Leader:

I would not recommend using Hope as a leader under any circumstances. If you
must, simply spam Highwind on single targets and use his -Ga and -Ra spells
on groups.

Hope as Support:

The AI generally does a great job of controlling Hope. Simply switch to
whatever roles you require. Vanille generally makes the better Medic for
most of the game, so if you're using both try to keep Hope as the Ravager
in most instances.

Hope should generally always be a Ravager then Medic. With Vanille, it's the
opposite. For long boss battles, feel free to create two Paradigm sets with
Hope as a Synergist. Equip him with Vidofnir and a Positive Effect accessory 
for the boost. Your buffs should last for the entire battle.

Equipment [6.03]

Weapon: Vidofnir or Hawkeye

I think Defensive Synergist buffs are relatively underwhelming for the 
majorityof the game. So I would generally lean toward Hawkeye (which 
gives you 200 more Magic).

However, until you reach the point you can upgrade weapons, I would suggest
using Vidofnir in conjunction with the Watchman's Amulet for the Positive 
Boost. This will give you +30% duration on your buffs for the nonstop
boss battles.

Recommended Accessory Setups:

Early Setup:
1- Watchman's Amulet/Shrouding Talisman
2- HP Boost/Royal Armlet

Keep Vidofnir equipped and dual shift to Hope Synergist at the beginning.
He should basically put up a full set of buffs on the party that lasts for
the entire battle.

Leader Setup: I do not endorse this. Simply follow the teammate setup.

Teammate Setup:
1- Sprint Shoes (if not using Sazh)
2- Royal Armlet/HP Boost
3- Watchman's Amulet/Shrouding Talisman (unless you remove Vidofnir)
4- Auto-Faith/Tetradic Crown/Aurora Scarf

You should generally put your Catalog accessories on your teammates with
high HP. Hope needs every ounce of defense he can get, so focus on that. As
a wise man once said, "A Dead Hope means no Hope."

|                            Vanille                                 [07.00]|
Max Stats: 1400 STR, 1700 MAG, 21,050 HP

Ah sweet Vanille. Most players tend to either love her or hate her. While I
must admit she has quite an awkward running animation, the lovable Oerban has
grown on me.

Vanille is my favorite glue character in the game. I think all parties could
stand to use her. She fills an amazing amount of holes in your roster and does
not have a useless role in her body.

She is also the best method of actually killing "Adaman" turtles the earliest.
Each jump of 40,000 CP you obtain will be *very* noticable at that point in 
your game.

Overview [7.01]

Vanille is the best Saboteur in the game. While many feel Hope is the best,
Vanille is actually the better Medic. The reason is she obtains the important
Cure spells earlier than Hope, who has to wait 'til deep into level 9 to get

She also eventually becomes one of the best Synergists, a servicable Ravager,
a decent Commando, and the *top* Sentinel (just kidding on the last one).

The importance of her Saboteuryness cannot be understated. For most of the 
game, she will be your only access to Deprotect, Deshell, and Imperil (huge
damage boosts) and will also stick those debuffs far more consistently than
other members!

Setup [7.02]

You basically want to follow this order with Vanille.

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots (get Death first though)
2. Get Death
3. Max out Saboteur/Medic/Rav Role Levels
4. Get the important Rav abilities and max out Crystarium for the three roles.
5. Work on reaching the offensive -Ra abilities in Synergist
6. Fill out Commando, then the rest

Vanille as Leader (Death Trick):

You don't ever want to run Vanille as leader unless you're planning to bring
stone Death to a sucka. Keep in mind Saboteur abilities are influenced by...

Belladonna Wand (Marlboro Wand is better)
Debuffs on the opponent
Higher Saboteur Role Level for Vanille
Higher Saboteur Role Levels for teammates (and make them Saboteurs too while
you're spamming Death)

1. Find a lovable Adamantoise or Adamantortoise.
2. I prefer using Vanille, Sazh, and Fang. Start with SAB + SYN + SYN. 
Immediately summon your Eidolon. Sazh should have given you Haste (put Sprint 
Shoes and a Scarf on him so he doesn't Haste himself first).
3. Start by sticking Deprotect, Deshell, and Imperil on the grounded turtle
4. Start shifting between setups with Vanille as Ravager. Build the gauge.
5. When the Eidolon runs out of Gestalt power, let it dismiss. When Fang and
Sazh rejoin, switch to Rav/Rav/Sab (Fang) and stick a few more debuffs.
6. Stagger then start spamming Death with SAB + SAB + SYN.
7. Rinse and repeat.

Vanille as Support:

Most of the same tips for Hope apply to Vanille. You should probably start with
a Paradigm that features Vanille as a Saboteur though. For weaker enemy groups,
don't bother. You can begin with COM/RAV/RAV or any other damage dealing team.

Equipment [7.03]

Weapon: Belladonna Wand

Vanille's weapons are interesting. Unlike other characters, Vanille suffers
little to no drawback from using Belladonna Wand over her "MAG specific" 
weapon. Belladonna Wand is by far the best weapon, it only loses 105 MAG
from the top weapon while providing an immense boost to her Debuffs.

You can also dismantle it for three Traps. There really is no excuse not to
use Belladonna Wand. Upgrade it to Marlboro Wand as soon as possible.

Recommended Accessory Setups:

Early Setup:
1- HP Boost/Royal Armlet
2- Speed Accessory

Vanille actually has a surprising amount of HP. A lot more than scrawny Hope
actually. So she can also serve as a holder of filler relics such as Catalogs.

Leader Setup:
1- Sprint Shoes
2- Aurora Scarf
3- Speed (even if it's redundant)
4- Speed (even if it's redundant)

This setup is for Death spamming. The 4 Boost accessories will give you more
time to land more Deaths.

Teammate Setup:
1- Watchman's Amulet* (special case, read below)
2- Sprint Shoes (with no Haste)
3- Auto-Faith
4- Player's Choice

Vanille is very flexible due to her high HP. Feel free to use whatever you
favor accessory-wise.

* In the unlikely event you have built Vanille as a top Synergist without
getting her ultimate weapon, Marlboro Wand is also a part of the "Positive
Effect" class. So equipping a Watchman's Amulet will give her buffs an extra
30% duration.

|                            Fang                                 [08.00]|
Max Stats: 2005 STR, 1300 MAG, 24,000 HP

Fang is widely considered the best character in the game. While I do agree she
is in the top tier, and undoubtedly the best character at late end game,
I give the overall nod to Lightning for flexibility and power in
dealing with enemy groups. 

Fang is a bit slow to reach her stride. While the end game creates a monster
that works amazingly as Ravager, Saboteur, Synergist, Commando, and Sentinel 
(!), for the majority of the game Fang will be incompatible with Snow and

The reason is she cannot become a Ravager or Medic without significant 
investments. And since you generally want to boost her Synergist skills early
(she gets the -Ra buffs early in the tree), Fang requires a lot of CP to reach
the peak of her powers.

That's not to say she's average though. She actually does the most raw damage 
as a Commando and can also Highwind the foo who gets in her way. She also works
as a great Saboteur and Sentinel.

But try out the other characters! The only reason Light/Hope/Fang is 
considered the best party is that Light/Hope shore up Fang's weaknesses. Other
characters can achieve considerable power over the course of the game as well.

Overview [8.01]

When maxed fully, Fang is the best Commando and the second best Saboteur. But
more incredibly, she is also a top Ravager, Sentinel, *and* Synergist. She's
also a decent Medic in a pinch.

Fang's special ability, Highwind, does the most damage of any move in the game
provided you have increased the stagger gauge to a high amount. Fang's
COM/RAV strikes also consistently do more damage than others.

Setup [8.02]

You basically want to follow this order with Fang.

1. Get all ATB/Accessory Slots
2. Get Highwind
3. Max out Commando role
4. Decide if you want to fill out her other roles or focus on stats for now
5a. Max out her main 3 Crystarium Trees
5b. Fill out Ravager/Synergist trees
6. Fill out the rest

Fang as Leader:

Along with Sazh and Lightning, Fang is one of the best leaders you can choose.
For turtle farming without using the Summon, her Highwind ability will allow
you to instantly collapse a leg upon staggering it.

Fang can set up immense damage with either triple Blitz or Blitz + Ruinaga. 
She can also start by AoE-debuffing an enemy group if you begin as a Saboteur.

Fang as Support:

Fang is also amazing as a support class. I prefer to keep her as support in
most instances since I feel Highwind is better used for specialized cases
(while Army of One and Cold Blood are immense stagger generators).

It's a bit frustrating at times being unable to move into triple Ravager for
faster breaks with Fang. So I generally tend to get all her RAV abilities
after maxing out the Commando role.

Equipment [8.03]

Weapon: Pandoran Spear, then Taming Pole 

I would suggest using Pandoran Spear (since you get it early and could use its
ability for bosses). Feel free to max it to Ultimate status, then dismantle it
later for 3 Traps. 

Her best "actual" weapon is probably Taming Pole if you plan on using any
Medic or Spell abilities. If not, you can also use the Dragoon Lance for
maximum STR. The Dragoon Lance is clearly a late end game item though (you
don't even unlock it until you're almost done with the missions!)

The Punisher is an interesting weapon for the early game when you desperately
need to fill TP each go-round to kill the Adamantoise. It also becomes three
Traps when dismantled so feel free to upgrade it to max instead of Pandoran

Recommended Accessory Setups:

Early Setup:
1- Auto-Brave
2- Sprint Shoes

You likely won't be using Fang and Sazh in the same group. So since you
probably won't have Haste, it's a good idea to give your best damage dealer
automatic Haste abilities.

TP Regen Setup:
1- Energy Sash
2- Speed Sash
3- Champion's Badge
4- Sprint Shoes

You can equip this setup with a Taming Pole (which joins the Gestalt synthesis
group). It will give you the Gestalt four piece set bonus, which gives you
increased TP. Great for quickly generating three TP and killing another 
helpless turtle.

Leader Setup:
1- Auto-Brave
2- STR Accessory (preferably Kaiser Knuckles)
3- Genji Glove
4- Sprint Shoes

While I don't generally mention Genji Glove, Fang's damage maxes out so 
quickly that you might reach the cap by the time you obtain a Glove (Mission
51). Feel free to use it as soon as you get it.

Teammate Setup:
1- Auto-Brave
2- STR Accessory (preferably Kaiser Knuckles)
3- Genji Glove
4- Sprint Shoes

I would not recommend dumping Catalogs and such on Fang. She is far too 
powerful and useful to waste slots on. Feel free to use either the above
setup or the TP Regen setup based on your needs.

|                            Version History                           [09.00]|
1.00- Guide complete

|                            Concluding Thoughts                       [10.00]|

Thanks for reading the guide. I do hope you enjoyed it. The main goal is to help
players new to Final Fantasy XIII realize what a deep and complex game it is. It
disheartens me to see characters like Snow and Sazh constantly disparaged.

Hopefully the guide taught you a few things and you can sleep comfortably with
the knowledge you have maximized every Character in your team.

Feel free to post my guide anywhere as long as you give credit. I would ask that
you please e-mail and ask permission first, or I may have to pursue copyright
claims (I am a law student!).

Feel free to contact me through e-mail at:
snapcall (at) gmail (dot) com

with thoughts, arguments, and tips. I may include them in further revisions.

Thanks to all of the wonderful message board posters on Gamefaqs and Piggyback
for making an incredible guide. This is my first guide, but I have read so many
wonderful faqs on my favorite games. Cheers, and pass it forward.