Overview – Monks are incredibly versatile in Final Fantasy Tactics with abilities that almost make them seem like spell casters at times. This versatility is offset by the inability to use almost any equipment. You need to entirely rely on learned skills and natural stats when using a Monk, rather than good equipment. Even if a character doesn’t end as a Monk, just about every job in the game can benefit from at least one Monk skill, so you should familiarize yourself with the abilities. The following guide to the Monk job in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you best take advantage of the job benefits and spend your job points wisely.
Prerequisites – To unlock the Monk you need a level 2 Knight. This is relatively easy to unlock, though will require a bit of effort if you have been focusing on spell casting skills with a character.
Advancement – A Monk can advance to a Geomancer after the character reaches level 3. The Monk job is also one of three jobs required to advance to Samurai. If you are intending to follow that path, you should get to level 4 with a Monk and then switch to Archer to start the slow progression towards Lancer that will unlock the Samurai class.
Equipment – The only equipment a Monk can equip is clothes. This isn’t a problem in terms of damage dealt, because Monks have a built-in job feature that makes their fist damage roughly equivalent to the damage of a sword, but this does severely impact the defensive abilities of a Monk.
Punch Art: Spin Fist (150 JP) – Spin Fist will attack all creatures within two squares of your Monk. This may sound good, but the damage is lower than a normal attack and you can’t exclude any allies in range. Too often this ability will hurt your party as much as your enemies. And, if you do put your Monk in a position to only hurt enemies, there is a good chance the Monk can’t survive the following round. Only take this ability after you have learned nearly every other Monk option.
Punch Art: Repeating Fist (300 JP) – Essentially this is just a superior attack to the basic attack of a Monk. For that reason, it should be on your short list of abilities to learn, but not necessarily near the top. It doesn’t add any flexibility, just damage, and if you want high damage there are better classes like Knight or Samurai.
Punch Art: Wave Fist (300 JP) – This attack is one of the main reasons to create a Monk. It is a short range attack that deals roughly equal damage to a normal punch attack. Range is particularly useful in this game, given the number of enemies that will try to kite your forces. Additionally, since it isn’t a physical attack, it is much harder to block, avoid, or counter.
Punch Art: Secret Fist (300 JP) – Secret Fist is a melee attack that has only one benefit: It applies Death Sentence. There are a few truly durable enemies that this will be useful on, but in the vast majority of battles you will slay an enemy long before Death Sentence finishes. Even Spin Fist is a better deal than Secret Fist.
Punch Art: Earth Slash (600 JP) – Earth Slash is one of the best attacks in the game. It attacks all creatures in an eight square line in all cardinal directions. This may sound difficult to control, but the massive range of the attack means it is easy to position your Monk to only attack enemies. This should almost always be the first attack you learn from this job.
Punch Art: Revive (500 JP) – With this ability you can revive an adjacent dead ally. The ability is not always successful, so you don’t want to wait too long to use it, but it will help you save Phoenix Downs and means you can revive allies without a Priest or Chemist.
Punch Art: Chakra (350 JP) – This is one of the two best skills that a Monk can learn and practically required for any character that you intend to eventually make a spell caster. When used, the Monk heals and regains MP. This is a great way to earn JP without putting your Monk in harm’s way and it is one of the very few abilities in the game that restores MP. The healing is generally the more useful benefit for melee jobs.
Punch Art: Stigma Magic (200 JP) – Combined with the previous two abilities, this is the last Punch Art ability that you generally want to teach any spell casting character. This ability will heal most negative status effects in the game. Punch Art attack abilities aren’t very useful outside the Monk class, but these three support abilities are almost always useful.
Reaction: Hamedo (1200 JP) – Hamedo is the best reactive ability in the game for melee combatants. It will preemptively attack an enemy when the Monk is attacked with a Physical attack. If you are lucky, this preemptive attack can even kill an enemy, thus negating the original attack. In order to make Hamedo activate as often as possible you want any character with it to have as high a Brave score as possible.
Reaction: Counter (300 JP) – Counter is just like Hamedo, except that it activates after your character is attacked, thus it can never negate an attack. The much cheaper JP cost means you might want to grab it first, but if you can be patient, you are better off waiting to get Hamedo, since job points spent on Counter are just wasted once you have Hamedo.
Reaction: HP Restore (500 JP) – HP Restore is one of the best Reaction skills in the game for characters that don’t have a strong physical attack. When your character is reduced to critically low hit points, there is a chance of the character healing. If you have dipped into Monk with a character primarily designed to be a spell caster, this should be your top priority after Chakra.
Support: Martial Arts (200 JP) – Because most Punch Art abilities are worthless if you are wielding a weapon, this ability can be useful for a late game hybrid character. For example, a spell caster with Martial Arts and Punch Arts can cast spells and fight well when forced into close combat. This is almost completely worthless for Knights who can’t use Battle Skills without a knight sword.
Move: Move-HP Up (300 JP) – While it may seem good to increase your hit points when you move, Monks need extra speed and maneuverability more than healing, especially since they already possess healing with the Chakra ability. About the only job that can meaningfully benefit from this is the Thief that already has fast speed and generally wants to move around a lot anyway.
Strategy – Monk is not a job that you are likely to end a character in, unless you want to really take advantage of Punch Art abilities. Even if you do, in the late game you can afford to use Martial Arts to turn other classes, like Archer or any spell caster, into a good approximation of a Monk. Only pick up attack abilities from Punch Art if you intend the character to be bare-fisted throughout the game. Otherwise, limit selections from Punch Art to the three support abilities, with Chakra being your most important skill to learn. Almost every warrior character should either learn Hamedo or Counter before leaving this job, just because they are two of the best Reaction skills in the game.